- Edibility 4 – use when still firm, clean thoroughly
- Identification 5 – unmistakable
- Distribution 2 – uncommon, pick responsibly when mature
- Season: September-November
- Habitat: At base of Sitka Spruce, Scots Pine
This is one of the most exciting fungi to stumble upon, nestling at the base of pine trees like a cloud of coral. Although uncommon, they tend to recur in established locations, though not necessarily in consecutive years. Firm young specimens are delicious, if laborious to clean, with a firm texture and fungal, nutty flavour. They can grow to enormous sizes (1m across), but football size is more normal. As the branches divide from a central stem, it is possible to harvest it in portion-size pieces, leaving the rest still live and growing.
It is very versatile, good for all mushroom dishes, though deep fried in tempura batter can be particular special.