Clavaria Zollingeri: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Clavaria Zollingeri Mushroom
This is a very distinctive mushroom that is typical of old unfertilized grasslands, a habitat that is greatly under threat.
It looks like a tiny set of purple antlers, cast aside on a bed of moss under oaks and hickories in eastern North America. There are not many mushrooms that look like Clavaria zollingeri in North America. Alloclavaria purpurea is only superficially similar, and close inspection reveals its duller color and its spindle-shaped branches that do not look like antlers; Clavulina amethystinoides is dull lilac to tan, and does not feature graceful, antler-like branching.
The dichotomously branching fruitbodies can be up to 10 cm tall and are initially violet but become dull grey-brown when old. It is an inedible species and is so rare that it should not be gathered except for important research.
Other names: Violet Coral, The Magenta Coral.
Clavaria Zollingeri Identification
Saprobic; almost always found in moss under hardwoods; growing alone or in groups; summer and fall; eastern North America.
2-10 cm high; individual elements usually sharing a common base, branching frequently or only occasionally, 2-6 mm wide; surface purple to pinkish purple, fading somewhat; tips rounded or irregular; base whitish.
Brittle; purplish; thin.
Spores 4-7 x 3-5.5 µ; ellipsoid; smooth; with an apiculus; inamyloid. Basidia clavate; 30-60 x 5-9 µ; 4-sterigmate; not basally clamped. Clamp connections absent.
Clavaria Zollingeri Look-Alikes
Other lavender to violet-colored corals include Clavulina amethystinoides, which is so multiply branched to appear toothed, and Clavulina amethystina, which can only be reliably distinguished by its two-spored basidia in comparison to the four-spored basidia of Clavaria species.
In Alloclavaria purpurea, the branching is reduced and the color usually a duller purple. The Australian coral Clavaria versatilis is also similar in appearance to Clavaria zollinger, but has branch tips that end in two short and blunt processes that are the same color as the rest of the fruit body.
Ramariopsis pulchella—a small, violet-colored coral fungus rarely taller than 3 cm (1.2 in)—could be mistaken for a small C. zollingeri. It has roughly spherical spores measuring 3.0–4.5 by 2.5–3.5 μm.
Clavaria Zollingeri Bioactive Compounds
This musroom contains lectins, a class of proteins that bind specific carbohydrates on the surface of cells, causing them to clump together. A Korean study demonstrated that extracts of the fungus caused lymphoagglutination, a specific form of agglutination that involves white blood cells. In general, lectins are used in blood typing and serology, and they are widely used in affinity chromatography for purifying proteins.
Clavaria Zollingeri Taxonomy & Etymology
Described in 1846 by French mycologist Joseph-Henri Léveillé (1796 - 1870), this fairy club fungus was given the scientific name Clavaria zollingeri which has been generally accepted as its basionym.
Synonyms of Clavaria zollingeri include Clavaria amethystina, Clavulina amethystina, and Clavaria lavandula Peck.
The specific epithet honors Swiss botanist Heinrich Zollinger (1818 - 1859), who specialized in the study of the genus Clavaria.
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