Tooth fungus

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Tooth fungus on a log in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Tooth fungi are a relatively small polyphyletic group of fungi whose mushroom bears its spores on a hymenium - a layer of "mother cells" - Although many tooth fungi are hard and inedible, some are prized both for their flavor and their ease of identification, such as Hericium erinaceus, the "bearded tooth mushroom". Other species, though not edible, find use in the production of natural dyes.

Despite their physical similiarites, molecular phylogeny has divided the tooth fungi among several orders, including Cantharellales (including the hedgehog mushroom), Russulales (including the bearded tooth mushroom), and Thelephorales. Another fungus - the toothed jelly fungus, Pseudohydnum gelatinosum - has "teeth" but is an even more distantly related, as one of the jelly fungi.

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