Coral Tooth Mushroom
Hericium coralloides is a saprotrophic fungus, commonly known as the coral tooth fungus. It grows on dead hardwood trees. The species is edible and good when young, but as it ages the branches and hanging spines become brittle and turn a light shade of yellowish brown. The Māori name for this species is pekepekekiore.
There are sixteen species of Hericium, four of which occur in North America, three in Minnesota. Coral Tooth Fungus (Hericium coralloides) is by far the most common of the three. It is fairly common in northeastern United States and in Minnesota. It is found in late summer and fall in deciduous woodlands and forests. It obtains its nutrients from dead wood (saprobic). It grows alone or in small groups on fallen logs, branches, and dead stumps of hardwoods.
When young, the fruiting body is knobby and toothless, and it cannot be distinguished from other Hericium species. When mature, it is a loose, openly branched, irregularly-shaped, 3″ to 13 ¾″ wide, 2⅜″ to 6¾″ high cluster of delicate branches rising from a tough, repeatedly branched base. It is white when fresh, becoming creamy-white to buff or yellowish-tan with age. The branches are themselves again intricately branched and have rows of evenly-spaced spines, like the teeth of a comb.
The spines are the spore-producing structures of this fungus, corresponding to the gills on many mushrooms (Agaricales). They are ⅛″ to ⅜″ long and hang downward. Sometimes a small tuft of spines at the tip of a branch may have spines up to 1″ long.
The flesh is white. It is edible when young and soft, but the spines become brittle with age.
The spore print is white.
Bear’s Head Tooth (Hericium americanum) is a tight cluster of many branches with tufts, not rows, of 3 ⁄16″ to 1¼″ long spines. It is uncommon in Minnesota.
Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an unbranched, cushion-shaped mass of closely packed spines. The spines are ¾″ to 2″ long or longer. It is rare in Minnesota.
Habitat and Hosts
Deciduous forests and woodlands. Dead fallen logs and stumps of hardwoods
Late summer and fall
4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.
Widespread; fairly common in Minnesota
Kingdom Fungi (fungi)
Division Basidiomycota (club fungi)
Subdivision Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)
Class Agaricomycetes (mushroom-forming fungi)
Family Hericiaceae (tooth fungi)
Coral Tooth Fungus was formerly classified as Hericium laciniatum, then Hericium ramosum. Older texts that used the latter name for this species used the name Hericium coralloides for what is now called Hericium americanum.