E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Sparassis crispa (Wulfen) Fr.
cauliflower mushroom

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Paul Dawson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #83782)

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Distribution of Sparassis crispa
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Species Information

Sparassis crispa is a compact mass of leafy lobes with wavy (frilly) edges, the lobes smooth and whitish to yellowish, arising annually from a tough perennial stem attached to conifer roots (or sometimes wood), usually singly near the bases of conifer trunks and stumps. The odor is spicy-fragrant. Spores are elliptic and smooth, produced on 4-spored basidia. Specimens can grow quite large (over 50 pounds) (Trudell). Western North American specimens have been known in the past as Sparassis radicata Weir: whether this is a separate species is a matter of ongoing debate, (Dai(1)). S. crispa is found in WA, OR, CA, (Castellano), and BC (in Redhead(5)). It has been reported from ID by Andrew Parker, pers. comm. and there are ID collections at Oregon State University. It also occurs in Europe and Asia (Trudell).
Fruiting body:
12-60cm or more across and high, a compactly branched mass of leafy lobes that are thin, flattened, wavy, and pliant, arising from a rooting base, (Arora)
firm, fairly tough or elastic; white, (Arora)
Branch color:
whitish to creamy or yellowish, often becoming cinnamon buff or tan when old or in dry weather, "sometimes with darker brown stains on the edges"; smooth, (Arora)
5-13cm x 2-5cm, usually narrowing downward, "fleshy but very tough, buried deep in ground (or wood)", (Arora),
spicy-fragrant, (Arora), strong, somewhat disagreeable or like smoked bacon, (Castellano), pleasant (Ammirati), quite pleasant, faintly of aniseed, (Lincoff(1)), not distinctive (Miller)
pleasant, of walnut, (Lincoff(1)), mild and pleasant (Miller)
spores 5-7 x 3-5 microns, elliptic, smooth, inamyloid, colorless; basidia 4-spored, 40-60 x 4-8 microns, clavate; cystidia absent; clamp connections present, (Castellano), spores 5-7 x 3-5 microns, broadly elliptic, smooth, (Arora)
Spore Deposit:
white (Castellano)

Habitat / Range

usually single at or near the bases of conifer trunks and stumps, fruiting usually in the late fall or winter, (Arora), single, typically within 2 meters of the base of a living coniferous tree (Pseudotsuga, Pinus), fall, (Castellano), fruiting in late summer and fall (Miller)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


edible and exceptional: thorough cooking needed to render it tender, for instance gentle sautéing or parboiling followed by baking or stewing, (Arora), leave the base when collecting for food, so that it will fruit the next year, (Ammirati)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Arora(1)*, Castellano(2)*, Ammirati(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Lincoff(1)*, Miller(14)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*, McKnight(1)*, Redhead(5), Dai(1), Trudell(4)*, Sept(1)*, Bacon(1)*, AroraPocket*, Buczacki(1)*

References for the fungi

General References