What You Should Know
Thelephora anthocephala is a species of coral fungus in the family Thelephoraceae. It is a coral-like mushroom with tough-fleshed branches that arise from a thickened, stem-like base. T. anthocephala features gray branches that begin to flatten at their tips. It is associated with hardwoods, turns black with KOH, has no distinctive odor, and has funky, spiny spores.
It was originally described as new to science in 1786 by French botanist Jean Baptiste François Pierre Bulliard, who placed it in the genus Clavaria. Elias Fries transferred it to Thelephora in his 1838 work Epicrisis Systematis Mycologici.
Thelephora anthocephala Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with oaks and other hardwoods; growing alone, gregariously, or in small clusters on the ground; summer; widespread in North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and occasionally reported in the Pacific Northwest.
A branching structure 3-4 cm high, with a short stem, or several main stems.
Numerous; arising from shared basal branches or the stem; individually subcylindric at first, becoming somewhat flattened; surface becoming slightly wrinkled; brownish-gray with pale gray to whitish apices; apices rounded or subacute.
0.5-1 cm high; 0.5-1 cm thick; tough; dark gray to black; united basally.
Stringy; fairly tough; dull tan; unchanging when sliced.
KOH is instantly black on all surfaces and flesh.
I have not documented the spore print; probably brown.
Spores 8-10 x 5-6 µ (excluding ornamentation); angular and lobed; covered with spines that extend 1-2 µ; ochraceous to brownish in KOH. Basidia 4-sterigmate; 40-50 µ long; clavate to widely clavate; basally clamped. Subhymenium not bluing in KOH. Tramal hyphae cylindric; 3-4 µ wide; walls smooth and hyaline to brownish in KOH; often clamped at septa.
Thelephora anthocephala Synonyms
Clavaria anthocephala Bull. 1786
Merisma anthocephalum (Bull.) Sw. 1811
Merisma clavulare Fr. 1815
Phylacteria clavularis (Fr.) Bigeard & H. Guill. 1913
Thelephora americana (Peck) Sacc. & P. Syd. 1902
Thelephora clavularis (Fr.) Fr. 1838
Thelephora palmata Pers. 1822
Photo 1 - Author: Wilhelm Zimmerling PAR (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Wilhelm Zimmerling PAR (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: Wilhelm Zimmerling PAR (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)