This section is from the book "Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc.", by George Francis Atkinson. Also available from Amazon: Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc..
This family is a very characteristic one, and very interesting from the large number of beautiful species in one genus, the genus Clavaria. The plants all are more or less erect, or at least stand out from the substratum, that is, the substance on which they are growing. The fruiting surface covers the entire upper part of the plant, all but the bases of the stems. Some of the branched species of the Thelephoracece resemble the branched species of the Clavariaceae, but in the former there is a more or less well defined upper portion on the tips of the branches which is flat, or truncate, and sterile, that is, lacks the fruiting surface. Some of the species are simple, elongate and clavate bodies. Some stand singly, others are clustered, or others are joined by their bases, and others still are very much branched. All of the species are said to be edible, that is, they are not poisonous. A few are rather tough, but they are mostly the small species which would not be thought of for food. The spores are borne on club-shaped basidia, as in the common mushrooms.
Plate 80, Figure 201
Clavaria formosa. Yellowish, red tipped when young, red disappearing in age (natural size, sometimes twice this size). Copyright.