Unlike the relatively solitary Clavulina rugosa we presented yesterday, Ramaria myceliosa is quite a gregarious species.  We found this fungus close to the end of our hike, not too far from the creek edge, hiding in the shade of a giant fallen Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).  We wouldn’t have even found this fungus, except initially we thought it might be easier to get by the fallen fir by scrabbling underneath it, rather than climbing over the top.  As soon as we peered under the tree, we found a veritable forest of Ramaria, sprawling along ground.

Ramaria myceliosa has a structure reminiscent of a beautiful finely branched ocean coral

Ramaria myceliosa is apparently quite common in Santa Cruz County.  Ramarias are classified as coral fungi, and in fact they do look as though they’d be more at home in the ocean than on the forest floor.

Ramarias tend to be very gregarious fungi, frequently found in large clusters

Ramarias get their name from the Latin ramus, meaning branch.  An important identifying feature of this species of Ramaria is that it abruptly and profusely branches from a slender stem.

Note the slender stem at the base of this species of Ramaria

On average, this species is described as between 2-6 cm high and broad.  The branches are slender, spreading, and the branching habit is less parallel than its cousin Ramaria stricta.  Branch color may be honey to chamois, yellowish, olive-ochre, cinnamon-buff, or even dull orange with age. Ramaria myceliosa has a slender, pliant, and not very fleshy stem, and typically the stem is the same color as the branches, or paler, with abundant white mycelial threads attached to the base and permeating the surrounding leaf litter.  The finely branched tips  are at first paler than the main branches, later concolorous, or olivaceous with age.

As seen in the foreground, new growth is pale, and the tips of this species are initially more pale than the branches in young specimens

This species is usually scattered densely in duff under conifers, and only known to grow on the west coast of North America.  Ramaria myceliosa may be abundant under redwood in the fall, winter and early spring.  This Ramaria does not grow on wood like some Ramaria species, nor does it obtain the green-blue coloration seen in an otherwise similar species, Ramaria abietina.

Ramaria myceliosa

Tomorrow, somewhat in keeping with an underwater theme, we’ll move on from coral, to jelly fungus!