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Comb Tooth Fungus

If you take a walk in the woods right now, you’ll find that overnight the fruiting bodies of a wide variety of fungi have popped up all over the forest floor, none more obvious than the white Comb Tooth fungus (Hericium coralloides).  It is delicately branched and covered with fleshy spines most of which are under half an inch in length.  Look for Comb Tooth on fallen hardwood branches, logs and stumps, particularly those of American Beech and maples.   If you are with someone whose fungus identification skills you trust, and they confirm that you have found Comb Tooth (the fungus it most resembles, H. americanum, or Bear’s-head Tooth fungus, is also edible), you are in for a treat, for it is one of our tastiest fungi.

2 responses

  1. Shiela

    GREAT shot, Mary! yes, they are popping up everywhere. Yours is so in focus, I’m jealous. I think what I’ve been snapping is the Bear’s-head Tooth. Are they actually mushrooms? They don’t seem to be listed in my mushroom books :-(( Also, how do you classify Indian Pipe? Are they mushrooms? Or… another sort of fungus… HELP!! This is the season to look, snap, and get more confused!!!
    Ever wondering,

    August 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    • Hi Shiela,
      Mushroom is a name some people use for a fungus that looks like a toadstool. Basically, mushrooms are, like the comb tooth fungus, the fruiting body of the fungus, which produces spores, and has miles of mycelium below the ground (the real “body” of the fungus). If you have a book on mushrooms, though, it should be listed…they’ve played around with the genus name, so if it’s an old book, it might be called H. americanum, but today that is considered the Bear’s-head Tooth fungus.
      Indian Pipe is a flowering plant, not a fungus. It’s just that it’s one of few flowering plants that does not have chlorophyll. As such, it has to obtain its nutrients from another source, as without chlorophyll it can’t make its own food. Believe me, I only know a handful of names, which are the ones you’ll see on my blog!

      August 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm

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