Cauliflower fungus

Sparassis crispa
(Sparassidaceae)


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Sparassis crispa is a species of fungus in the genus Sparassis. In English it is sometimes called cauliflower fungus.

Description

S. crispa grows in an entangled globe that is up to 24 in (61 cm) in diameter. The lobes, which carry the spore-bearing surface, are flat and curly, resembling lasagna noodles and they are coloured white to creamy yellow. When young they are tough and rubbery but later they become soft. The odour is pleasant and the taste of the flesh mild.

The spore print is cream, the smooth oval spores measuring about 7 µm by 5 µm.

This species is found growing at the base of conifer trunks, often pines, but also spruce, cedar, larch and others. It is fairly common in Great Britain.

Culinary use

It is considered a good edible fungus when young and fresh, though it is difficult to clean (a toothbrush and lots of running water are recommended for that process). One French cookbook, which gives four recipes for this species, says that grubs and pine needles can get caught up in holes in the jumbled mass of flesh. The Sparassis should be blanched in boiling water for 2-3 minutes before being added to the rest of the dish.

References


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