I’ve decided that I will only learn what mushrooms and fungus are “edible” and not confuse my mind trying to memorize the ones that are poisonous or toxic. In doing so I depend on the distinctives of each edible, and coral fungus/mushrooms have unique characteristics that make them easy to identify. They look remarkably like ocean coral with clusters of upright twig-like stalks that resemble a small bush.
Corals come in a wide variety of colors and textures. The type shown in the photo grow on dead deciduous wood and in this case the wood was sub-surface so it appeared to be growing on the ground. I was happy to see this coral was fresh and ready for harvesting. I encourage foragers to cut mushrooms vs. uprooting them to allow for future reproduction. Along with that practice I suggest collecting mushrooms in a net or open-weave basket that will allow the spores to fall back to the ground in order to sustain the field of mushrooms for the future.
Like other mushrooms, corals have varied characteristics in taste and texture. Some types if eaten in excess can cause stomach upsets so it is best to eat in small amounts at first to see how your system reacts to it. Although you can sample a small raw portion for taste it is best to cook them for general consumption. I was pleased to fry mine in butter when I returned home.
I encourage all aspiring mushroom foragers to locate an expert in your area to positively identify your finds for safety sake and to assist you in learning more about this enjoyable pursuit!