Artomyces pyxidatus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Artomyces pyxidatus Mushroom
This beautiful coral mushroom is easily distinguished by its distinctive tips. The tip of each branch sports many small points that surround a bowl-like, central depression. It is this crown-like arrangement that earned the Crown-Tipped Coral its common name.
No other coral fungi in North America have this distinctive crown pattern, so pyxidatus is easy to identify. The fruiting body is a medium-sized to large, branching structure, like other coral fungi.
Each branch develops from one of the tips at the end of another branch.
Older branches at the base of the mushroom are thicker to support the rest of the structure. The coral fungus varies in color from white to yellowish to tan, with the newly-formed branches at the top lighter than the old branches at the base.
Unlike most coral fungi, the Crown-Tipped Coral decomposes dead wood and can be found fruiting directly from hardwood logs from spring through fall.
In North America, it is most often encountered east of the Rocky Mountains.
Sometimes this mushroom forms numerous, small mushrooms from the same log, but it may produce only one, large mushroom. A. pyxidatus is edible, but must be cooked beforehand.
If you taste a fresh specimen (without swallowing), you will find that it develops a peppery flavor. That flavor usually disappears upon cooking, but you may find that a faint hint remains.
Other names: Crown Coral, Crown-tipped Coral.
Artomyces pyxidatus Identification
Saprobic; growing alone or gregariously on the deadwood of hardwoods (especially the wood of aspens, tulip trees, willows, and maples); spring, summer, and fall; widely distributed in eastern North America, the Rocky Mountains, and Mexico, but absent or rare on the West Coast.
4-13 cm high; 2-10 cm wide; repeatedly branched.
1-5 mm thick; smooth; whitish to pale yellowish at first, sometimes darkening to pale tan or developing pinkish hues; tips crowned with a shallow depression and 3-6 points, colored like the branches or becoming brownish.
1-3 cm long; under 1 cm thick; whitish, pinkish or brownish; finely fuzzy.
Whitish; fairly tough; pliable.
Odor and Taste
Odor not distinctive or "faintly of newly dug potatoes" (Phillips); taste mild or peppery-acrid.
Spore Print: White.
Artomyces pyxidatus Health Benefits
There were some early indications of antimicrobial effects and anti-viral properties of Artomyces pyxidatus; the anti-viral effect was seen in animal strains of virus including an Avian virus. There is no further literature to support these original findings; however, one has to consider this may not necessarily be due to a lack of results, but rather research.
Inhibition of amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta)
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the build of protein in cells in the brain; the proteins in Alzheimer’s disease form plaques and tangles. The plaques are due to the presence of Abeta and the tangles, the Tau protein. Important scientific research showed that the presence of Abeta in vitro is decreased when administered a mycelial extract of Artomyces pyxidatus.
The group have continued to work on the mechanisms that may be behind this positive effect of reducing a potentially pathological protein, and they observe that Artomyces pyxidatus provides inhibitory effects on some important enzymes including an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE).
AChE breakdowns down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is lost in Alzheimer’s disease. This leads to the cognitive changes associated with the disease. The prevention of the breakdown of any remaining neurotransmitter may prove positive in treating symptoms.
Artomyces pyxidatus Look-Alikes
Ramaria is a massive genus with most species a real pain to identify without a miscroscope/chemical tests. While several of these are eaten around the world, we suggest you do not consume these without taking further precautions. The tips of Ramaria are not split and they grow terrestrially (out of the ground, not wood).
Clavulina such as C. cristata
These species have flatter, distinctive branching, even at the tips, but lack the crown-shaped branching. These also grow terrestrially.
Also known as the false-coral mushroom, recently moved from the genus "Tremellodendron", these tend to grow as a dense fimbrillar cluster from the ground
and are not nearly as delicate as the other corals listed on this page.
These species are a bit tougher and the branches won't fall off quite as easily. While the fruitbody is heavily branched and the branches are thin, the tips will come to points. These species are commonly found growing on leaf-litter and not wood.
Artomyces pyxidatus Cultural Info
The man credited with the name and discovery of Crown-Tipped Coral mushrooms, Elias Magnus Fries, was considered by many of his contemporaries as “the Linnaeus of Mycology.” His major contribution to the study of mycology was through better ways of organizing the different genera and species and was the first to use spore color as a basis for classifying gilled mushrooms.
Crown-Tipped Coral mushrooms are one of the many types of mushrooms that were reclassified once advancements in microscopes and DNA sequencing enabled mycologists to confirm the differences between the different club and coral fungi genera and species.
Artomyces pyxidatus mushrooms were moved from the Clavaria genus to Clavicorona in 1947, and then to the genus Artomyces in 1972. Today they are often still known and classified as Clavicorona pyxidate among some foragers.
Artomyces pyxidatus Preserving
Stored in a breathable bag, such as a paper bag, in the fridge or a cool place, the mushrooms can keep for several days. Never store the mushrooms in a plastic bag as this turns them soggy and slimy. If storing longer-term, place the mushrooms in a plastic container that just holds the mushrooms, sealing the top with plastic wrap. Poke holes in the top of the wrap to allow air and moisture to escape. Dries great.
Artomyces pyxidatus Cooking Notes
Crown-Tipped Coral mushrooms can be consumed raw but are most often cooked as they can cause an upset stomach in some consumers. The mushrooms need to be thoroughly washed, as dirt can get lodged among the branches and between the small points at the tip of each stalk.
To wash, they should be pulled apart into pieces and agitated in a bowl of water.
Crown-Tipped Coral mushrooms are delicate and will soften and wilt quickly when heated, so they are often used as a finishing garnish in soups, stews, and stir-fries.
They can also be lightly battered and fried to serve as an appetizer, sautéed and served alongside fish or seafood as a play on coral in an under the sea theme, or pickled and preserved for later use.
Crown-Tipped Coral Mushrooms pair well with lettuce, bok choy, snap peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, vinaigrette, miso soup, tofu, soy sauce, mirin, seafood such as white fish, prawns, shrimp, and crab, and meats such as poultry, beef, and pork.
Also try to pour boiling salted broth over them, leave let them cool in it, and then simply pick out individual clusters to drop into a soup as a garnish at the very last minute. Its also a lot of fun to serve them with seafood and freshwater fish, to get a sort of “sea” and fish combination/play on ingredients.
Recipe: Pickled Crown Coral Mushrooms
A quick and basic pickle method to which other seasonings may easily be added. The trick is to make sure you have extremely young, tight clusters of coral mushrooms, otherwise, they could fall apart or be very flimsy.
Yield: 6 1/2 pint jars
2 tsp kosher salt
2 lbs Coral mushrooms, the younger and more firm the better
4 cups water
1/2 cup champagne or white vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, whacked with the back of a knife
a dried chilli or two for heat, depending on how hot you like things
a sprig or two of an herb, thyme or savory would be great
How to cook
Separate the coral mushrooms into clusters about the size of golf balls.
Next wash your coral mushrooms in cool water and clean them to remove any clinging dirt or debris.
Heat the water, salt, vinegar, chillis, garlic, and herbs in a pasta pot or another wide pan until the salt is dissolves and the mixture has come to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave the mixture to infuse for 5 minutes.
Remove the herbs and garlic and taste the mixture, if you want to, add more garlic or another chilli or two to make it more spicy, etc.
When the pickling liquid tastes like you want, add the coral mushrooms and stir, they will wilt very quickly.
When the mushrooms are wilted, use a pair of tongs, or a hand held strainer to remove the mushrooms and place them in 1/2 pint canning jars
Fill the jars with mushrooms and their pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of head room at the top of each jar to prevent them exploding.
Process the jars of pickled coral mushrooms in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Recipe: Coral Mushroom Soup, Milkweed, White Lentils, Truffle-Cured Egg
1.5 qts strong, homemade meat broth, like chicken
1 cup fresh crown coral mushrooms trimmed, washed and cleaned
1/2 cup cooked white lentils small white beans or rice can be substituted
1/2 cup fennel diced 1/4 in
4 duck eggs chicken can be substituted
1 recipe truffle salt-cured duck egg yolks recipe here
1/2 cup milkweed leaves sliced 1/2 inch
Kosher salt to taste
A small saucepot filled with about 3 qts of water for poaching the eggs
White vinegar to taste
How to cook
Bring the saucepot filled with water to a simmer, season the water to taste with the vinegar and salt, you should be able to just taste the vinegar, to 3 qts, about 1/4 cup of vinegar is plenty.
Bring the meat stock to a simmer, add the lentils, fennel, milkweed leaves, and coral mushrooms and cook for 15 minutes, until all the ingredients are soft, especially the diced fennel. Season the soup with salt to taste.
When the soup is done, keep it warm and then crack the eggs, one at a time into the poaching liquid, keeping it at a light simmer. Cook the eggs for 3 minutes, or until the white is just set. Remove the eggs and drain on a towel for a moment.
Divide the soup evenly between four preheated bowls, top each with a poached egg, garnish with shavings of the cured duck yolk, and serve immediately.
I cooked the white lentils separately for the picture to keep the broth clear. It's perfectly fine to just cook them in the broth with everything else though, so that's the recipe method I've included.
Recipe: Crispy Fried Coral Mushrooms, with Chive Aioli
1/2 lb Coral Mushrooms
Chive Aioli recipe follows
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup flavorless oil for frying like grapeseed or canola
1 recipe chive aioli follows
Chive Blossoms to garnish
All-purpose flour as needed for dredging
2 large eggs beaten with 2 tbsp water
How to cook
Separate the coral mushrooms into pieces about the size of a chicken egg.
Clean the coral mushrooms with a brush and if needed dip and swish in water.
Dust your coral mushrooms lightly in flour, dip in the egg, then in the flour again.
Heat a saute pan on medium-low with cooking oil. Test the heat of the oil by sprinkling some flour in it, when it sizzles, turn the heat to low, then add the coral mushrooms and fry 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.
Remove the corals from the pan sprinkle with kosher salt, and allow to drain on a paper towel for a few seconds to remove excess oil. Serve immediately with the chive aioli on the side.
Recipe: Crown Tipped Coral Parmesan Crackers
Yield: about 6-7 crackers
4 oz crown tipped coral clusters, trimmed of bark and picked over for debris and insects
Kosher salt, a pinch
1.5 oz or about 3 tablespoons grated high quality parmesan, such as a locally made variety, grana padano, or parm reggiano
2 tablespoons all purpose flour or equivalent, gluten free flour, starch, etc
Flavorless cooking oil, as needed (a spray bottle is perfect)
How to cook
Preheat the oven to 325. Toss the coral mushrooms, parmesan, pinch of salt and flour together in a mixing bowl, then make small mounds roughly the size of a 1/4 cup on a baking sheet.
Discard any remaining flour at the bottom of the bowl. Flatten out the mounds lightly, then spray or drizzle lightly with oil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the mushrooms have wilted and the cheese and flour are very crisp.
Flip the cakes occasionally about halfway through, pressing down on any raised parts to ensure even crispness. The cheese should be golden, and the crackers evenly crisp, but not burnt.
Remove the crackers to a cooling rack or towel to weep any excess oil, then store in a container with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to two days, or refrigerate and toast slightly to re-crisp, and then cool, before eating.
Recipe: Crown Tipped Coral Mushroom Croutons
Crown tipped coral clusters, trimmed of bark and picked over for debris and insects
Cooking oil, as needed, a small amount, preferably in a spray bottle
Kosher salt, to taste
All-purpose flour, a small amount, just enough to coat the mushrooms
How to cook
Toss the coral mushroom clusters with a few good pinches of flour, toss to coat, discard the excess and layout on a baking sheet.
Spray or drizzle the mushrooms lightly with oil and bake for 30 minutes at 325 or until the mushrooms are completely wilted, flat and crisp, then remove from the oven and cool.
Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 2 days.
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