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Sparassis crispa is a species of parasitic mushroom commonly known as Cauliflower mushroom. It looks like a sea sponge, a brain, or a head of cauliflower. It is the best known and widely collected mushroom in Europe and eastern North America.
Sparassis crispa can grow to 10-25 cm tall, with fruiting body of light brown-yellow to yellow-gray or a creamy white cauliflower color. It is unlikely to be mistaken for any poisonous or inedible mushrooms due to its unique look and size. It is a parasite to the roots various species of pine and spruce, hence it is usually found growing close to pine, oak and spruce tree.
Sparassis crispa should be picked while it is still creamy white. Once it turns yellow, it has becoming too indigestible to eat. The mushrooms need to be thoroughly cleaned before use as the folds can trap dirt and other material. It is also good for drying and reconstuting as it retains its cartilaginous texture and thus is good for soups.
Sparassis crispa contains chemicals which are beneficial to the immune system and have anti-tumor properties.