Violet coral

Violet coral ┬ęDr Malcolm Storey

Violet coral

Scientific name: Clavaria zollingeri
The branching, finger-like projections of this fungus give it the appearance of an underwater coral. Its striking colour and form make it easy to spot, but it is scarce in the UK.

Species information

Statistics

Fruiting body: up to 10cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

July to November

About

The violet coral lives up to its name - a striking, violet, coral-like fungus that is widespread but quite rare. It can be found in broadleaved and coniferous woodland, as well as on unimproved grassland. It is usually solitary, but can occur in small groups. Fungi belong to their own kingdom and get their nutrients and energy from organic matter, rather than photosynthesis like plants. It is often just the fruiting bodies, or 'mushrooms', that are visible to us, arising from an unseen network of tiny filaments called 'hyphae'. These fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation.

How to identify

The violet coral is a distinctive, coral-like fungus that has an intense deep violet colour. A number of erect branches grow out of a thick stem. The branches divide and the ends have shallow forks with blunt tips.

Distribution

Widespread, but scarce.

Did you know?

The violet coral is typical of unimproved grasslands - a habitat that is greatly under threat. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition.

How people can help

Fungi play an important role within our ecosystems, helping to recycle nutrients from dead or decaying organic matter, and providing food and shelter for different animals. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, including fungi: you can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member. Our gardens are also a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside. Try leaving log piles and dead wood to help fungi and the wildlife that depends on it. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS.