Calocera viscosa: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Calocera viscosa Mushroom
Calocera viscosa is a jelly fungus, a member of the Dacrymycetales, an order of fungi characterized by their unique "tuning fork" basidia.
It has bright orange, yellow, or occasionally white branching basidiocarps, which are somewhat gelatinous in texture and slimy to the touch (hence the specific name). It is relatively large for a jelly fungus and can reach up to ten centimeters in height.
Calocera viscosa is a widespread and common mushroom, and its bright color makes it stand out in its habitat. It grows on decaying conifer wood, typically stumps and roots, although this may not be obvious if the wood is covered in leaf litter. It fruits throughout the year but is most commonly seen in autumn.
It is not poisonous, but its tough gelatinous texture and nondescript taste and odor make it unattractive as a food. Its striking color has led to it being used as a garnish on occasion, however.
Synonyms: Clavaria Viscosa, Calocera Flammea, Calocera Cavarae, Calocera viscosa var. Cavarae.
Other names: Yellow Stagshorn, Staghorn Jelly Fungus, Jelly Antler Fungus, Yellow Antler Fungus, Yellow Tuning Fork.
Calocera viscosa Identification
Bright orange or orange-yellow, up to 10 cm tall, greasy and viscid, with antler-like branches often forked near the tips - hence the common name Jelly Antler Fungus is sometimes given to this species.
In dry weather, the color can become orange-red.
Ellipsoidal to sausage-shaped, 8-12 x 3.5-5µm; hyaline; inamyloid; sometimes becoming septate when fully mature (developing a single dividing wall); each spore containing two oil droplets.
Habitat & Ecological role
On roots and stumps of conifers.
Fruiting through most of the year, but particularly prevalent in autumn.
Yellow Stagshorn fungus could be confused with some of the Ramaria species of coral fungi, but the greasy, viscid surface of Calocera viscosa is an immediately obvious distinguishing feature.
Calocera viscosa Taxonomy & Etymology
Yellow Stagshorn was described in 1794 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who gave it the binomial scientific name Clavaria viscosa. In 1827 the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who had established the genus Calocera in 1821, renamed this species as Calocera viscosa, which has remained its accepted scientific name up to the present time.
Synonyms of Calocera viscosa include Clavaria viscosa Pers., Calocera flammea Fr., Calocera cavarae Bres., and Calocera viscosa var. cavarae (Bres.) McNabb.
Calo- as a prefix means beautiful, while the extension -cera comes from ancient Greek and means 'like wax', so that the genus name Calocera translates to 'beautiful and waxy' - and surely Calocera viscosa, which is the type species of its genus, deserves such an accolade. Just as it sounds, the specific epithet viscosa simply means viscous, sticky or greasy, and when it is wet the Yellow Stagshorn does indeed have a sticky surface.
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