I received an email from a former student with this picture of a beautiful Sparassis radicata, the Cauliflower mushroom. Personally, I don’t think it looks as much like Cauliflower as some of the Ramaria species, like Ramaria botrytis. It seems more like a bunch of wide egg noodles all folded together. VERY tasty and an easy beginner mushroom! With this picture in mind, I was hoping that my class would find other mushrooms a couple of days later in the same area, but that was a real challenge. Even the deep moss was crunchy!
Sparassis is a parasite on tree roots causing brown rot, especially Doug fir but it kills them very slowly. The stem is definitely “radicating,” rooting down deep into the soil, as you can see in the photo. I have been picking Sparassis at that same site for probably 15 years. You can return to the same tree and harvest a bounty every fall if you time it right. One fall many years ago a single Sparassis was brought into the OMS mushroom show in Portland that weighed about 40 lbs.!
I hope you enjoyed that Sparrasis, Carl, and that I can beat you to it next year!