Cauliflower mushroom: Sparassis crispa
Fruiting body 20 cm broad, 40 cm tall, sometimes larger, a rounded mass of flattened, wavy, leaf-like branches, white to pale yellow; branch edges discoloring brown in age; arising from a large root-like sterile base, the upper portion appearing chambered when sectioned, solid below; flesh white. Hymenium on the flattened surfaces of the fruiting body. Odor fragrant, somewhat spicy.
Spores 5-7 X 3-5 µm elliptical, smooth. Spore deposit white.
Usually solitary at the base of conifers, especially Bishop and Monterey pine; fruiting from late fall to mid-winter.
Edible and choice, but cleaning debris from the branches can be a deterrent.
As its common name suggests, the densely branched fruiting body of Sparassis crispa resembles a cauliflower. Initially creamy-buff in color, the long-lived fruiting bodies gradually darken in age, especially along the branch edges. Sparassis crispa is believed to be parasitic on conifers. Affected trees produce annual fruitings, sometimes bushel basket in size. The size, color, and flattened branch structure of Sparassis crispa distinguish it from other members of the coral group.