Orange Jelly Belly Coral looks like something you might see while snorkeling in the warm southern seas. Coral mushrooms are also called deer antlers or doghair and they are of the family Clavariaceae. There are many species across North America, and they can grow quite large. Coral mushrooms are notoriously hard to identify. This has had me reluctant to post much about these beauties.
One of the issues with corals is whether they truly are edible or not. Some reports suggest that they are not poisonous, others say that some corals can and do cause gastrointestinal distress, it would seem that even the corals that are concidered safe can have a laxative effect. Ramaria Formosa, which is so very pretty to see with its yellow and pink coloration, is thought to be poisonous. To be safe when harvesting corals for the table, you can rely on a few rules of thumb when harvesting is to avoid species with a gelatinous base or ones that bruise brown.
Orange Corals begin to fruit in late summer and will continue late into the fall here on Vancouver Island. Look for corals in the duff and leaf litter. As they grow, the tips will trap all kinds of forest debris which makes them a chore to clean. I look for corals that resemble cauliflower and not the ones that look like ocean corals.
Getting out into the forest to collect mushrooms for consumption is such a great way to spend the day, I love getting out with my camera to capture these wonders of the wooded realm, its good for the body and the chance to find new mushrooms, at least to me is always exciting.