Coral tooth fungus

Hericium coralloides


Кораловидна игличарка



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Not evaluated Data deficient Least concern Near threatened Vulnerable ENDANGERED Critically endangered Extinct in the wild Extinct
Assessment info
Habitat and Ecology
Use and Trade
Conservation Actions


Scientific name

Hericium coralloides


(Scopoli) Persoon


Hydnum coralloides Scop.

Assessment info

IUCN Red List Category and Criteria

EN – Endangered C2a(i)

Date assessed

November 2020


Tofilovska, S.


Kost, G.


Karadelev, M.

Rusevska, K.


Miskovic, M.


The estimated number of mature individuals is ca. 320–550 based on the probable total number of sites in the country (ca. 55–90), the estimated number of functional individuals at each locality (estimated to be three), and based on the template of how many mature individuals each reproducing genotype may give rise to (template used two). The assessments are that there has been a permanent population decline during the last two decades (two generations). Per each subpopulation only one or two mature individuals are observed.

The decline is ongoing and suspected to continue in the future based on assessment of the decreasing habitat, fragmentation and reduction of habitat quality.


Current population trend



The low number of recorded sites (18), with one to two mature individuals observed per site, substantiates the low frequency and the small population size.

This species grows in broadleaf forests, mainly on degraded wood of beech, but it also inhabits oak wood, and the population size is directly contingent on the appropriate substrate. According to the instructions for estimation of mature individuals provided by Dahlberg and Mueller (2011), ca. 320–550 can be estimated based on the probable total number of sites in the country (ca. 55–90), the estimated number of functional individuals at each locality (estimated to be three), and the template of how many mature individuals each reproducing genotype may give rise to (template used two).

In view of forest management and the effects of habitat destruction, the quality of appropriate habitat is in permanent decline, leading to a continuous population decline of the fungus.

Habitat and Ecology



Habitat and Ecology

Hericium coralloides grows in old, well-preserved forests as a saprotroph on dead hardwood trees, on trunks with large diameter, and it can also develop on dead parts of living trees. It thrives in an environment that is not too dense, it prefers sunlight and heat. The presence of Hericium coralloides is an indicator of an advanced state of decay, and it causes white rot. Fagus sylvatica is its major substrate but it is also found on Quercus spp. in our country. It has been reported from Alnus, Betula, Fraxinus excelsior, Populus and Sorbus, too (ArtDatabanken 2019, Boddy et al. 2011).

It is a rare species in the country, registered at only 18 sites from the mountains of Belasica, Bistra, Bukovic, Dobra Voda, Galicica, Jakupica, Kajmakcalan, Korab, Kozuf, Ograzden, Osogovo Mts, Pelister, Plackovica, Vodno and Kicevo Valley (Melovski et al. 2013). It has been observed at an elevation ranging between 400 m and 1,350 m. Two sites in Mavrovo NP and two sites in Pelister NP are located in the sustainable use zone, while one site in Galicica NP is located in the strict protection zone.

Although in North Macedonia these types of forests are dominant, the number of recorded sites is low even though the species is well known and easy to be identified. Nonetheless, besides the known sites, it is highly probable that the species occurs at other sites with a proper habitat, accordingly an estimation of probable sites was made (Dahlberg and Mueller 2011). The probable total number of sites is guesstimated to be by 3 to 5 times higher than the current one, resulting in ca. 55–90 sites.

Use and trade

Use and trade

It is an edible species. However, in North Macedonia, is not very well-known for its nourishment, and it is not a subject of trade.



Hericium coralloides population is in a threat of decline essentially due to habitat loss and fragmentation. It is threatened by logging of beech and oak trees used as firewood and by changed land use. The removal of old, injured or broken trees with a large diameter lowers the availability of a suitable host for the fungus.

Consistent with available statistics data and publications, 91% of the total forest covered area in North Macedonia is managed, and most of it (93%) is considered productive forest for manufacturing of wood whereas the remaining area is also managed but only with a restriction in regard to the logging system (Trajkov et al. 2016, Kolevska et al. 2017). Most of the area is covered by coppice forests (62.2%) while high forests occupy 30.6%, and a division into even and uneven-forest stands is absent (Trajkov et al. 2016). In practice, the silvicultural system applies clear-cutting in oak forests and in places of beech forests too (Trajkov et al. 2016, pers. obs.), resulting in bare lands and even-aged forests while old growth forests are in a state of decline. In North Macedonia, ca. 1% of forests are logged on an annual basis by the national forestry management service (Kolevska et al. 2017, State Statistics Office 2018), and they are usually exploited in cycles of 30-50 years. Furthermore, illegal logging is considerably high, with additional 30% to legal wood extraction. Therefore, the quality of the fitting habitat is continuously reducing, posing a major threat to the maintenance of a stable fungus population.

The increased interest for harvesting the fungus fruit bodies owing to its edibility might be another direct threat.

Conservation actions

Conservation actions

Conservation needed: The survival of this fungus depends on the accessibility of a proper host. Therefore, for conservation of the current species, it is crucial for old, large-diameter and damaged trees to be retained onsite. The established sites should be maintained in their natural condition. In the silvicultural management of forests in the country, instead of clear-cutting, trees of various age should be left on site to be allowed to grow and create a suitable habitat for spore production and subsequent colonization. Fallen and injured trees should not be eradicated from the site.

Reforestation with alien species should not be applied.

Research needed: Regular monitoring of the known sites should be conducted, coupled with field research at the noted potential sites seeking to explore the distribution and dynamics of occurrence of Hericium coralloides.

Forest inventories and forestry plans should be digitized and regularly updated. There is a need for elaboration of a habitat map.



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