Sparassis (also known as cauliflower mushroom) is a genus of parasitic and saprobic mushroom characterised by its unique shape and appearance and is found around the globe. [1] Its appearance can be described as similar to a sea sponge, a brain or a head of cauliflower, hence its popular name.

Cauliflower mushroom
Sparassis crispa JPG1.jpg
Sparassis crispa
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Family: Sparassidaceae
Genus: Sparassis
Fr. (1819)
Type species
Sparassis crispa
(Wulfen) Fr. 1821

See text.

It is increasingly cultivated and sold in Korea, Japan, the United States and Australia.

The generic name comes from the Greek sparassein, meaning to tear.[2]


Sparassis brevipes

The following species are recognised in the genus Sparassis:[3]

The best-known and most widely collected species are S. crispa (found in Europe and eastern North America) and S. radicata (found in western North America). These species have a very similar appearance and some authorities treat them as conspecific. Their colour ranges from light brown-yellow to yellow-grey or a creamy-white cauliflower colour. They are normally 10 to 25 cm tall but can grow to be quite large, with reported cases of fruiting bodies more than 50cm tall and 14 kg in weight. Their unique look and size means they are unlikely to be mistaken for any poisonous/inedible mushrooms. They grow as parasites or saprobes on the roots or bases of various species of hardwoods, especially oak, and conifers, and hence are most commonly found growing close to fir, pine, oak or spruce trees.


Sparassis crispa can be very tasty but should be thoroughly cleaned before use. The folds may contain dirt and other material because, as it grows, the basidiocarp envelops objects such as pine needles. Italian gastronome Antonio Carluccio said that European S. crispa should be picked when creamy white, because once yellow it is too indigestible to eat. It is suitable for drying and reconstituting because it retains its cartilaginous texture and hence is good for soups.[7]

S. radicata is also edible,[8] as is S. spathulata, a cauliflower mushroom which looks similar to Grifola frondosa.[9]

S. crispa is also widely used intraditional Chinese medicine because it contains active pharmacological ingredients. In order to study its medicinal value better, the genomic sequence of S. crispa was published in October 2018.[10] The dry weight of the basidiocarp was found to contain up to 43.6% Beta-glucan,[11] which was approved for the treatment of cancer [12] in Japan and most recently recommended for COVID-19 patients to overcome inflammation.[13]

Experiments suggest that S. crispa contains chemicals that may stimulate the immune system and has many biological properties including: anti-tumor,[14][15][16] antiviral activity (reverse transcriptase inhibitory activity),[17] neuroprotection,[18] cardioprotection,[19] anti-inflammation,[20] hyperlipidemia,[21] anti-diabetic medication,[22] antimicrobial compounds,[23][24][25] and methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pasailiuk, M.V. (2019-12-29). "Biological peculiarities of a rare mushroom Sparassis nemecii (Sparassidaceae, Polyporales) on plant substrates in pure culture". Ukrainian Botanical Journal. 76 (6): 493–498. doi:10.15407/ukrbotj76.06.493. ISSN 0372-4123. S2CID 213788431.
  2. ^ sparassis at
  3. ^ "Loading..." Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  4. ^ Desjardin DE, Wang Z, Binder M, Hibbett DS (2004). "Sparassis cystidiosa sp. nov. from Thailand is described using morphological and molecular data" (PDF). Mycologia. 96 (5): 1010–4. doi:10.2307/3762085. JSTOR 3762085. PMID 21148922.
  5. ^ Dai YC, Wang Z, Binder M, Hibbett DS (2006). "Phylogeny and a new species of Sparassis (Polyporales, Basidiomycota): evidence from mitochondrial atp6, nuclear rDNA and rpb2 genes" (PDF). Mycologia. 98 (4): 584–92. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.4.584. PMID 17139851.
  6. ^ Blanco-Dios JB, Wang Z, Binder M, Hibbett DS (2006). "A new Sparassis species from Spain described using morphological and molecular data" (PDF). Mycological Research. 110 (Pt 10): 1227–31. doi:10.1016/j.mycres.2006.07.012. PMID 17018255.
  7. ^ Carluccio A. (2003). The Complete Mushroom Book. Quadrille. ISBN 978-1-84400-040-1.
  8. ^ Davis, R. Michael; Sommer, Robert; Menge, John A. (2012). Field Guide to Mushrooms of Western North America. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-520-95360-4. OCLC 797915861.
  9. ^ Meuninck, Jim (2017). Foraging Mushrooms Oregon: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Mushrooms. Falcon Guides. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-4930-2669-2.
  10. ^ Kiyama (2018). "Genome sequence of the cauliflower mushroom Sparassis crispa (Hanabiratake) and its association with beneficial usage". Scientific Reports. 8 (1): 16053. Bibcode:2018NatSR...816053K. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-34415-6. PMC 6207663. PMID 30375506.
  11. ^ Ohno (2000). "Antitumor 1,3-β-glucan from cultured fruit body of Sparassis crispa". Biol. Pharm. Bull. 23 (7): 866–72. doi:10.1248/bpb.23.866. PMID 10919368.
  12. ^ Kimura (2013). "Natural products and biological activity of the pharmacologically active cauliflower mushroom Sparassis crispa". BioMed Research International. 2013: 982317. doi:10.1155/2013/982317. PMC 3613060. PMID 23586068.
  13. ^ Rao (2020). "Role of Immune Dysregulation in Increased Mortality Among a Specific Subset of COVID-19 Patients and Immune-Enhancement Strategies for Combatting Through Nutritional Supplements". Frontiers in Immunology. 11: 1548. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.01548. PMC 7363949. PMID 32733487. S2CID 220405084.
  14. ^ Harada T, Ohno N (2008). "Contribution of dectin-1 and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to immunomodulating actions of beta-glucan". International Immunopharmacology. 8 (4): 556–66. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2007.12.011. PMID 18328447.
  15. ^ Yoshikawa (2010). "Novel phthalide compounds from Sparassis crispa (Hanabiratake), Hanabiratakelide A-C, exhibiting anti-cancer related activity". Biol. Pharm. Bull. 33 (8): 1355–9. doi:10.1248/bpb.33.1355. PMID 20686231.
  16. ^ Yamamoto (2007). "Antitumor activities of low molecular weight fraction derived from the cultured fruit body of Sparassis crispa in tumor-bearing mice". Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi. 54 (9): 419–423. doi:10.3136/nskkk.54.419.
  17. ^ Wang (2007). "Apeptide with HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activity from the medicinal mushroom Russula paludosa". Peptides. 28 (3): 560–5. doi:10.1016/j.peptides.2006.10.004. PMID 17113195. S2CID 7912537.
  18. ^ Hu (2016). "Mitochondria Related Pathway Is Essential for Polysaccharides Purified from Sparassis crispa Mediated Neuro-Protection against Glutamate-Induced Toxicity in Differentiated PC12 Cells". Int. J. Mol. Sci. 17 (2): 133. doi:10.3390/ijms17020133. PMC 4783876. PMID 26821016.
  19. ^ Hong (2015). "Hypocholesterolemic Effects of the Cauliflower Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Sparassis crispa (Higher Basidiomycetes), in Diet-Induced Hypercholesterolemic Rats". Int. J. Med. Mushrooms. 17 (10): 965–75. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v17.i10.60. PMID 26756188.
  20. ^ Kim (2012). "Sparassis crispa suppresses mast cell-mediated allergic inflammation: Role of calcium, mitogen-activated protein kinase and nuclear factor-κB". Int. J. Mol. Med. 30 (2): 344–50. doi:10.3892/ijmm.2012.1000. PMID 22614038.
  21. ^ Bang (2017). "New Aromatic Compounds from the Fruiting Body of Sparassis crispa (Wulf.) and Their Inhibitory Activities on Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 mRNA Expression". J. Agric. Food Chem. 65 (30): 6152–6157. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.7b02657. PMID 28689410.
  22. ^ Yamamoto (2013). "Orally and topically administered Sparassis crispa (Hanabiratake) improves healing of skin wounds in mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 77 (6): 1303–5. doi:10.1271/bbb.121016. PMID 23748764. S2CID 45728199.
  23. ^ Woodward (1993). "Two new antifungal metabolites produced by Sparassis crispa in culture and in decayed trees". Journal of General Microbiology. 139 (1): 153–159. doi:10.1099/00221287-139-1-153.
  24. ^ a b Kawagishi (2007). "Novel bioactive compound from the Sparassis crispa mushroom". Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 71 (7): 1804–6. doi:10.1271/bbb.70192. PMID 17617705. S2CID 6521442.
  25. ^ Kodani (2008). "Occurrence and identification of chalcones from the culinary-medicinal cauliflower mushroom Sparassis crispa (Wulf.) Fr. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)". International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 10 (4): 331–336. doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v10.i4.50.

Further readingEdit