Fruiting body coralloid, erect, 3-7 cm tall, 2-4 cm broad, branched 3-4 times, tips with short, tooth-like projections; base 2.0 cm tall, consisting of fused branches; surface smooth to slightly wrinkled, white, becoming cream, sometimes tinged yellowish in age, the branch tips typically ochraceous-brown; flesh white to marbled, unchanging; odor and taste mild.
Spores 7-9 x 6-7.5 µm, round, subglobose to broadly elliptical, smooth, nonamyloid; spore print white.
Scattered to gregarious in soil and duff in hardwood/conifer woods; especially common under pines; fruiting from mid to late winter.
Edible, but lacking in texture.
Clavulina cristata is a small, white to cream, shrubby, coral fungus with, flattened, multi-toothed branch tips. Some fruitings develop rounded tips mimicking a close relative, Clavulina rugosa. The latter is distinguished by a sparsely branched fruiting body and larger spores: 9-13.5 x 7.5-10 µm.