Sunday, 16 February 2014

Clavaria rosea: A Stunning Rarity

I love surprises. I love to be stopped dead in my tracks in the woods by the unexpected. I particularly love it when that something unexpected makes me gasp and hold my breath, the way this Clavaria rosea did—a coral fungus I’d been hoping to add to my life list for more than thirty years. Stumbling across it was like finding a brilliantly coloured bird perched within arm’s reach. Don’t move, don’t breathe, or it might take flight.
Clavaria rosea or rose spindles
Clavaria rosea rarely grows bigger than a baby finger.
But fungi don’t take flight. Small, brittle ones, like this 4 cm cluster, can, however, be easily crushed, particularly if you’re poking through the woods with an exuberant four-month-old puppy, which made this a difficult picture to take, what with trying to hold the camera steady with one hand while using the other to grope for sticks to throw as a distraction for her.

Clavaria rosea fades
The amazing colour of Clavaria rosea fades quickly. 
Clavaria rosea is rare, but impossible to mistake for anything else. Its closest relatives resemble it only in shape, not colour. It grows in mixed forests, in grasses, and along paths in base-rich soils to a maximum height of 6 cm. The ones I found at the end of August had popped up under red maple and ash trees in limestone soil at the edge of a dried-out vernal pond.

blurred pouncing dog

Ruby pouncing in the overgrown vernal pond.

Update: 17.8.14

The pink worm coral, Clavaria rosea
Way more this year!
I've just found it again, after waiting for what seemed like forever for the vernal pond to shrink away from the spot where it grew last year. They've just come up and are still really small...and not quite the same crazy bubblegum pink.

And another flush a month later (17.9.14), even more extensive:


Clavaria rosea on the Web: 


  1. found some yesterday in New Zealand

  2. I just found some in my back yard in Anchorage, Alaska.