Ramaria fungus, also known as coral fungus, is a type of mushroom that is found in various parts of the world, including Kananaskis. These fungi are known for their distinctive appearance, with branches that resemble coral. They are often brightly coloured. They are typically found growing on the ground in forests, particularly in areas with moist soil.
Globally, there are over 100 species of Ramaria fungus. They are classified into several different genera. Some of the most commonly found species in Alberta include Ramaria aurea, Ramaria flava, and Ramaria formosa. These species are known for their bright yellow or orange colour, which makes them easy to spot in the forest.
Recycling the forest
Ramaria fungus is a decomposer, meaning it breaks down dead plant material and returns nutrients back to the soil. This is an important ecological function. It helps to recycle nutrients and maintain the balance of the ecosystem. The fungus grows by producing tiny spores, which are released into the air and can be dispersed over long distances. When the spores land on a suitable substrate, they germinate and begin to grow.
Ramaria fungus is often found growing in association with trees, particularly conifers. It is thought that the fungus derives some of its nutrients from the trees, forming a mutually beneficial relationship known as a mycorrhiza. This type of relationship is common in the natural world and helps both the fungus and the tree to thrive.
It is likely that a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals, may consume Ramaria fungus as a source of food. However, it is important to note that not all species of Ramaria fungus are considered safe for consumption by humans. It is not known how they may affect other animals. Some species of Ramaria fungus are known to produce toxins, while others may contain compounds that are harmful to animals or humans.
Find out about more of the cool fungi in K-Country here!