Sparassis Spathulata: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Sparassis Spathulata Mushroom
Sparassis Spathulata is easily mistaken for Wood Cauliflower Sparassis crispa.
All the visible parts above ground are fattened lobes looking similar to a sea sponge, brain, or cauliflower. Can be light brown, buff to yellow/grey to creamy white.
Fungi in the genus Sparassis are generally referred to as 'cauliflower' fungi because from a distance the globose pale fruitbodies resemble the cultivated brassica commonly used as a vegetable.
Sparassis Spathulata is edible when young and fresh.
Other names: Eastern Cauliflower Mushroom, Cauliflower Mushroom.
Sparassis Spathulata Identification
Pathogenic and saprobic; growing from the roots or bases of trees; found primarily under hardwoods--especially oaks--but occasionally reported under conifers; annual, but often recurring yearly in the same location; causing a brown rot or a butt rot; summer and fall; fairly widely distributed in eastern North America.
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).
Considered a choice edible when young.
Spores 5-7 x 4-5 µ (S. crispa) or 6-8 x 5-6 µ (S. spathulata); smooth; broadly elliptical; inamyloid. Clamp connections present (S. crispa) or absent (S. spathulata).
Sparassis Spathulata Taxonomy & Etymology
In 1822 this remarkable fungus was described and named by American mycologist Lewis David von Schweinitz (1780 - 1834) and given the binomial scientific name Merisma spathulatum. The great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries renamed this species as Sparassis spathulata.
Synonyms of Sparassis spathulata include Merisma spathulatum Schwein., Sparassis brevipes Krombh., Sparassis laminosa Fr., Sparassis crispa var. laminosa (Fr.) Quél., and Sparassis simplex D.A. Reid,
The generic name Sparassis is derived from a Greek verb meaning to tear - the fronds of the fruitbody are divided as though they have been torn, and the specific epithet spathulata translates to spade-like flattened like a spatula.
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