What You Should Know
Clavulina cinerea is a species of coral fungus in the family Clavulinaceae. Relatively uncommon and inconspicuous, this drab coral fungus is easily overlooked. Fresh specimens may have an attractive lilac tinge, but are usually dull gray or brown in age. Clavulina cristata is a whitish cousin which fruits abundantly under pine. The two share a similar growth form, i.e. branches which tend to be flattened apically. Interestingly, specimens of both species can be found with pointed or rounded branch tips and some authors theorize that this "clubbing" may be caused by a parasitizing fungus.
Other names: Gray Coral, Ashy Coral Mushroom.
Clavulina cinerea Identification
Fruiting body up to 9 cm tall, 6 cm wide, moderately branched, arising from a common base; individual branches often sinuous, tending to produce a flattened or "crested" apical growth, the tips pointed or rounded; surface smooth to slightly wrinkled, dull from a powdery bloom, lilac-gray to gray, becoming grayish-brown in age; stipe short or absent; context pallid, brittle; odor and taste mild.
7-10.5 x 5.5-9 µm, subglobose, oval to broadly elliptical, smooth, nonamyloid; basidia 2-spored.
Scattered or in small groups on soil or in duff of hardwood/conifer woods; fruiting from mid to late winter.
Clavulina rugosa is smaller with one or just a few club-like branches nearly always with blunt tips.
Clavulina cinerea Taxonomy and Etymology
Gray Coral was described in 1788 by French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard, who named it Clavaria cinerea.
In 1888, German mycologist Joseph Schrötter (1837 - 1894) transferred this species to the genus Clavulina, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Clavulina cinerea.
Synonyms of Clavulina cinerea include Clavaria cinerea Bull., Clavaria grisea Pers., Ramaria cinerea (Bull.) Gray, Clavaria fuliginea Pers., Clavulina cinerea f. cinerea (Bull.) J. Schröt., Clavulina cinerea var. cinerea (Bull.) J. Schröt., and Clavaria cinerea var. gracilis Rea.
The specific epithet cinerea means smoky or ashen (grayish, as in cinders).
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