What You Should Know
Ramaria abietina is a coral mushroom in the family Gomphaceae. It is characterized by the green staining reaction it develops in response to bruising or injury. Fruit bodies are leathery, and brittle when dry. They are small and branch from the central stem up to five times. The slender branches are slightly flattened or spreading, and forked or crested near the top.
The color of the fruit body is medium yellow-green to light olive but will bruise a darker olive green to dark olive green. The stem is short, and has a mat of mycelia at its base, which is attached to rhizomorphs that branch into the substrate. The odor of the mushroom tissue ranges from indistinct to earthy, and it tastes initially sweet, then somewhat bitter. Widespread across North America and Europe.
Ramaria abietina is generally considered to be inedible.
Other names: Greening Coral, Green-staining Coral.
Ramaria abietina Mushroom Identification
Repeatedly branching woodland coral whose final branches terminate in two or three laterally compressed pointed tips; color yellowish at first becoming more olive at maturity; branches turn greenish when bruised.
The pale stout stem is short, mainly buried below the surface of the substrate, and covered in downy white mycelium; tough and fibrous, the flesh is whitish.
2.5 to 5.5 cm tall and up to 5 cm across the whole fruitbody; often gregarious with several fruitbodies merging.
Broadly ellipsoidal to pip-shaped, smooth, 6-8 x 4-4.5μm.
Odor and Taste
No significant odor but a bitter taste.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Under conifers, most commonly spruce trees, usually on acidic soil.
Ramaria abietina Look-Alikes
Typically larger and it does not bruise greenish.
This species does not stain when bruised.
Ramaria abietina Taxonomy and Etymology
The species was described in 1794 by Christian Hendrik Persoon, who gave it the scientific binomial name Clavaria abietina. French mycologist Lucien Quélet transferred it to the genus Ramaria in 1888, when its scientific name became Ramaria abietina.
Synonyms of Ramaria abietina include Clavaria abietina Pers., Clavaria ochraceovirens Jungh., Ramaria ochraceovirens (Jungh.) Donk, Merisma abietinum (Pers.) Sprengel, Hydnum abietinum (Pers.) Duby, Clavariella abietina (Pers.) J.Schröt., and Phaeoclavulina abietina (Pers.) Giachini.
Ramaria, the generic name, comes from Ram- meaning branch, with the suffix -aria meaning possessing or furnished with. Ramaria coral species are indeed furnished with numerous branches.
The specific epithet abietina is derived from the Latin for a fir tree (Abies genus), but this coral seems to favor spruces; however, Picea abies is the scientific name for the Norway Spruce.
Photo 1 - Author: Nomeda Vėlavičienė (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Holger Krisp (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Photo 3 - Author: Peta McDonald (Public Domain)
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