Sparassis Crispa: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Sparassis Crispa Mushroom
Sparassis Crispa is a brown edible rot mushroom, which grows at the base of conifer trees such as pine, spruce, cedar, and larch. This species typically found in Northern Europe and the United States.
This mushroom is both parasitic and saprophytic. It derives its name from Cauliflower, the vegetable because it resembles its head. Alternatively, it is said to look like a brain and hence its nickname, the Brain Fungus.
Sparassis Crispa is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine because it contains materials with pharmacological activity.
This is a very delicious mushroom that can weigh upwards of 6 kg. It is ready for picking when still white but if it overstays on the farm and turns yellow, it can give you indigestion. However, it can be dried and preserved as it remains cartilaginous with all its nutrients.
Other names: Cauliflower Fungus, Hanabiratake (Japanese).
Sparassis Crispa Health Benefits
This fungus is known for its production of health benefiting compounds such as β-glucan, anti-fungal compounds such as sparassol, methyl-2, 4-dihydroxy-6-methylbenzoate, and methyl-dihydroxymethoxy-methylbenzoate, ergosterol peroxides, and benzoate derivatives that can be used to treat human diseases such as diabetes, wound healing, as well as the immune system, cytokine induction, and cancer.
In addition, substances such as anti-fungal and phenolic compounds can be used as anti-oxidant or anti-fungal agents.
Antidiabetic and antiallergic activities
Sparassis Crispa 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.
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.
Sparassis Crispa Cooking Notes
Cauliflower mushroom is the ultimate soup mushroom. It’s essentially a cross between an al dente egg noodle and a mushroom. It has a sweet mild flavor a lot like a morel mushroom that happens to go very well with red meats.
Also, try to sautéed Sparassis Crispa in olive oil with a bit of butter or ghee added for flavor.
Sparassis Crispa Taxonomy
Sparassis Crispa was originally described and named by Franz Xaver Freiherr von Wulfen (1728-1805), a botanist and Jesuit Priest who spent much of his adult life exploring the flora of the Austrian Alps. The great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in his Systema Mycologicum of 1921 sanctioned the name, which has remained valid to the present time.
Synonyms of Sparassis crispa include Clavaria crispa Wulfen, Manina crispa Scop., Masseeola crispa (Wulfen) Kuntze, Sparassis radicata Weir.
The perfect Wood Cauliflower fungus pictured above was found and photographed in Hampshire, England, by David Kelly.
Sparassis Crispa Etymology
The generic name Sparassis is derived from a Greek verb meaning to tear - the fronds of the fruitbody are divided irregularly as though they have been torn, and the specific epithet crispa translates to finely waved or curled, and is not a reference to brittleness (crispness) - in fact, the lobes are quite pliable (they have been described as cartilaginous in texture rather than brittle).
Sparassis Crispa Extract
Cauliflower extract is used in damaged skin preparations as well as toneless and aged skin products. Cauliflower extract is suitable for cosmetic care applications.
With its wealth of healthy phytonutrients, high levels of anti-inflammatory substances and the ability to protect against cancer, heart problems, brain diseases and even weight gain, this interesting vegetable causes Swanson to create a nutritional supplement that combines all the health benefits of taking Cauliflower.
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