Sparassis crispa

Scientific name:  Sparassis crispa (Wulfen) Fr.
Derivation of nameCrisp- means "curly" or "crisped" in
reference to the "curly" branches.  
Synonyms:  Sparassis radicata Weir
Misapplied name: S. spathulata
Common name(s):  Rooting cauliflower mushroom.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Sparassidaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Saprobic/parasitic; solitary
or in groups on the ground near conifer trunks or stumps or
sometimes on well-decayed conifer logs and stumps; August
through October.  
Dimensions:  The entire complex mass of flattened branches
may be up to 40 cm and high and 20 cm (or more) wide.   
Description: This fungus occurs as a compact cluster of
flattened, leaf-like branches (called flabellae) which are highly
contorted ("crinkled"). The flabellae do not have distinct color
zonations (i.e., they are azonate) and the margins are variously
incised. Overall, it resembles a large head of leafy lettuce or a
brain or perhaps cauliflower. The overall color is white to
cream to pale yellow to tan. The branches arise from a thick
((2-5 cm), tough, deeply rooted (5-14 cm) dark brown to
black central stalk.          
Edibility: This is considered a choice edible species.
There are reports of fruiting bodies up to 50
pounds. If the root is left in the ground, the fungus will appear
for several years at the same spot. Bear in mind that the
scientific name of this species is quite confused in field guides
and elsewhere. See Light, et al. for an informative summary
of recent DNA and morphological studies that shed light on
the species of Sparassis in North America. S. crispa is
primarily a European species and although eastern North
American and European specimens are morphologically
identical, DNA evidence does not confirm they are the same
species. S. spathulata is the much more widespread
Sparassis species in northeast North America.
More information at
More information at

Figure 1. What comes to mind? Noodles? Lettuce?
Cauliflower? A brain? Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. The flabellae are azonate and the margins are
highly contorted. Photo © Gary Emberger.


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