Ramaria formosa

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Ramaria formosa
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Gomphales
Family: Gomphaceae
Genus: Ramaria
R. formosa
Binomial name
Ramaria formosa
(Pers.) Quél. (1888)
  • Clavaria formosa Pers. (1797)
  • Merisma formosum (Pers.) Lenz (1831)
  • Clavaria formosa Krombh. (1841)
  • Corallium formosum (Pers.) G.Hahn (1883)
Ramaria formosa
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Smooth hymenium
No distinct cap
Hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable
Stipe is bare
Spore print is yellow
Ecology is mycorrhizal
Edibility is poisonous

Ramaria formosa, commonly known as the pinkish coral mushroom,[2] salmon coral,[3][4] beautiful clavaria, handsome clavaria, yellow-tipped-[5] or pink coral fungus, is a coral fungus found in Europe. It is widely held to be mildly poisonous if consumed, giving rise to acute gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and colicky pain. It is a pinkish, much-branched coral-shape reaching some 20 cm (8 in) high. Similar forms collected in North America are now considered to represent a different species than the European Ramaria formosa.[6]


The fungus was initially described by Christian Hendrik Persoon in 1797 as Clavaria formosa.[7] In 1821, Elias Magnus Fries sanctioned the genus name Clavaria, and treated Ramaria as a section of Clavaria.[8] It was placed in its current genus by French mycologist Lucien Quélet in 1888.[9] Synonyms have resulted from transfers of the fungus to the now obsolete genera Merisma by Harald Othmar Lenz in 1831,[10] and to Corallium by Gotthold Hahn in 1883.[11]

The generic name is derived from Latin rāmus 'branch', while the specific epithet comes from the Latin formōsus 'beautiful'.[12] Common names include salmon coral,[13] beautiful clavaria, handsome clavaria,[14] yellow-tipped- or pink coral fungus.[15] There is some confusion over its classification as there is evidence the binomial name has been applied loosely to any coral fungus fitting the description, and thus the collections from North America are now considered to be a different species.[16][6]


The fruit body of Ramaria formosa grows to a height of 30 cm (12 in) and width of 15 cm (6 in);[17] it is a many-branched coral-like structure, the yellow-tipped pinkish branches arising from a thick base.[18] Terminal branches are less than 0.5 cm (0.2 in) in diameter. The flesh is white, with pink in the middle,[18] or pale orange. It may turn wine-coloured or blackish when bruised.[17] Old specimens fade so the original colour is hard to distinguish. The smell is unpleasant and taste bitter.[18]

The spores have a cylindrical to elliptical shape, and measure 8–15 by 4–6 µm. The spore surface features small warts that are arranged in confluent lines. Basidia (spore-bearing cells) are club-shaped, measuring 40–60 by 7–10 µm[19] Clamp connections are present in the hyphae.

Similar species[edit]

There are several other Ramaria species with yellow-tipped, salmon-coloured branches, including R. leptoformosa, R. neoformosa, R. raveneliana and R. rubricarnata. These are distinguished from R. formosa most reliably using microscopic characteristics.[20] A general rule is to avoid all old coral fungi for consumption.[18]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Fruiting in autumn, Ramaria formosa is associated with beech and is found in Europe.[21] In Cyprus, the fungus is thought to form mycorrhizal associations with golden oak (Quercus alnifolia).[22]


Consumption of the fungus results in acute gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, colicky abdominal pain and diarrhea. The toxins responsible are unknown to date. It has been reported as edible if the acrid tips are removed.[23]


  1. ^ "GSD Species Synonymy: Ramaria formosa (Pers.) Quél". Species Fungorum. CAB International. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  2. ^ Arora, David (1986). Mushrooms demystified: a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi (Second ed.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-0-89815-169-5.
  3. ^ "Ramaria formosa · salmon coral". The British Mycological Society. Archived from the original on 2022-02-05. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  4. ^ "Ramaria formosa (Pers.) Quél. – Salmon Coral". NBN Atlas. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  5. ^ "Yellow-tipped Coral Fungus (Ramaria formosa)". Ninaturalist.nz. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  6. ^ a b Franchi, Paolo; Marchetti, Mauro (2021). I FUNGHI CLAVARIOIDI in Italia (in Italian). Trento: Associazione Micologica Bresadola. ISBN 978-0-00-001844-1.
  7. ^ Persoon CH. (1797). "Commentatio de Fungis Clavaeformibus" (in Latin). Leipzig, Germany: Wolf: 41. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Fries EM (1821). Systema Mycologicum (in Latin). Vol. 1. Lund, Sweden: Ex Officina Berlingiana. p. 466.
  9. ^ Quélet L. (1888). "Flore mycologique de la France et des pays limitrophes" (in French). Paris: Octave Doin: 466. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Lenz HO. Die nützliche und schädliche Schwämme (in German). Gotha, Germany: Beckersche Buchhandlung. p. 95.
  11. ^ Hahn G. (1883). Der Pilzsammler (in German). Gera, Germany: Kanitz. p. 72.
  12. ^ Simpson DP. (1979). Cassell's Latin Dictionary (5 ed.). London: Cassell. p. 883. ISBN 978-0-304-52257-6.
  13. ^ Holden L. (July 2014). "English Names for fungi 2014". British Mycological Society. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  14. ^ Hladký J. (1996). The Czech and the English Names of Mushrooms. Masarykova univerzita v Brně. p. 308. ISBN 978-80-210-1406-0.
  15. ^ Bresinsky A, Besl H (1990). A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Fungi: A Handbook for Pharmacists, Doctors, and Biologists. Würzburg, Germany: Wolfe Publishing. pp. 170–71. ISBN 978-0-7234-1576-3.
  16. ^ Ammirati JF, Traquair JA, Horgen PA (1985). Poisonous Mushrooms of the Northern United States and Canada. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 306–10. ISBN 978-0-8166-1407-3.
  17. ^ a b Phillips R. (2006). Mushrooms. London, UK: Pan MacMillan. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-330-44237-4.
  18. ^ a b c d Zeitlmayr L. (1976). Wild Mushrooms: An Illustrated Handbook. Garden City Press, Hertfordshire. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-584-10324-3.
  19. ^ Courtecuisse R. (1999). Mushrooms of Britain and Europe. Collins Wildlife Trust Guides. London, UK: HarperCollins. pp. 356–57. ISBN 978-0-00-220012-7.
  20. ^ Davis RM, Sommer R, Menge JA (2012). Field Guide to Mushrooms of Western North America. University of California Press. pp. 296–97. ISBN 978-0-520-95360-4.
  21. ^ Nilson S, Persson O (1977). Fungi of Northern Europe 1: Larger Fungi (Excluding Gill-Fungi). Penguin. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-14-063005-3.
  22. ^ Loizides M. (2011). "Quercus Alnifolia: the indigenous Golden Oak of Cyprus and its fungi". Field Mycology. 12 (3): 81–88. doi:10.1016/j.fldmyc.2011.06.004.
  23. ^ North P. (1967). Poisonous Plants and Fungi in colour. Blandford Press & Pharmacological Society of Great Britain. pp. 109–10.

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