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The Western Cauliflower Mushroom - Sparassis radicata

                               Edibility: CHOICE

One of the most versatile mushrooms to cook with, the cauliflower mushroom surpasses the vegetable version in every aspect. Fantastic in soups, stir-fry, or in pasta dishes(as a substitute for pasta noodles). They are somewhat of a rarity. On the west coast, they only grow at the base of pine trees in cool damp weather. On the East coast, they grow with Oak trees. You will typically find only one, but occasionally they will have two taproots growing down into the ground. Usually quite large, so finding 1 in a days hike, is enough to make some lovely dishes. Very pleasant fragrance 

How To Identify Cauliflower Mushrooms

There are a couple white Coral mushroom species(such as Ramaria botrytis) that look similar to the Cauliflower mushroom. Upon closer inspection, you will discover that the Cauliflower is very different. The different coral species have pointed(pencil like) tips, where the Cauliflower mushroom has long feather like branches. The Cauliflower has a tap root at the base, from which the rounded head of 'white lettuce' grows. Flesh is white, yellowing with age. Spore print is white and will always be found at the base of pine trees. If you find a nice Cauliflower mushroom and you want to take it home with you, cut it at the base and remove the lettuce like, head. If you leave the taproot, it will fruit again, every 1-2weeks, following the rains.

Left: Cauliflower Mushroom

Some Coral mushrooms will make you sick and its not a trusted group of mushrooms in ingest. You must make absolutely sure that what you have is a Cauliflower mushroom. There are some that are good to eat, including Ramaria botrytis, the Clustered Coral, but those are for more experienced foragers to tamper with. If you cant distinguish a Cauliflower, then you should not trust your judgement on Coral species ;)


Above: Ramaria botrytis(Cauliflower lookalike)

Above: Ramaria botrytis primordia(Often mistaken for Cauliflower mushrooms)

Above: Matsutake buttons and Cauliflower mushrooms

Left: 6.2lb Cauliflower Mushroom!

Below: Cauliflower mushrooms on the drying racks