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Sparassis spathulata and Sparassis crispa:
by Michael Kuo
These large, unmistakable "cauliflower mushrooms" can be found growing from the bases or roots of trees in eastern North America's hardwood forests (the western version is Sparassis radicata). Recent DNA studies (Wang and collaborators, 2004) support the idea that there are at least two species, or species groups, in eastern North America; see the description below if you are interested in identifying your cauliflower mushroom precisely.
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Ecology: Pathogenic and saprobic; growing from the roots or bases of trees; found primarily under hardwoods--especially
Fruiting Body: 10-40 cm broad; composed of tightly packed branches which arise either from a common base (S. spathulata) or from large basal branches that in turn arise from a large underground base (S. crispa); branches long and flattened (S. spathulata) or short and contorted (S. crispa); whitish to yellowish or tan; each branch with fairly conspicuous zones of color (S. spathulata), or evenly colored (S. crispa).
Spore Print: Whitish.
Microscopic Features: Spores 5-7 x 4-5 µ (S. crispa) or 6-8 x
REFERENCES: S. crispa: (Wulfen, 1781) Fries, 1821. S. spathulata: (Schweinitz, 1822) Fries, 1828. (Saccardo, 1888; Saccardo, 1888; Smith, 1949; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Burdsall & Miller, 1988a; Burdsall & Miller, 1988b; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; Wang et al., 2004; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007; Binion et al, 2008.)
Sparassis herbstii and Sparassis caroliniense are synonyms for Sparassis spathulata, according to Burdsall & Miller (1988a). Eastern North American versions of "Sparassis radicata" should probably be labeled Sparassis crispa, since the western North American cauliflower mushroom is the "true" Sparassis radicata.
This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2009, January). Sparassis spathulata and Sparassis crispa: The eastern cauliflower mushrooms. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/sparassis_spathulata.html