Coral fungi are recognized by their curious branching and their clustered appearance, as shown at the right. Usually they grow in the woods and frequently are found on decaying logs. Some are brightly colored.
Basidia occur in a continuous layer covering the surfaces of the fungus's erect branches. Most species are fleshy and edible.
A few years ago people thought that the classification of the coral fungi was easy but today fungus scientists, or mycologists, aren't sure how to classify them. Currently there is much debate. Fungi in perhaps three orders and several families are referred to as coral fungi, so it's becoming clear that the "coral fungi" aren't a natural group. In the past many unrelated species were lumped together as "coral fungi" because they looked similar, but now that we can study their DNA many important differences between them have been discovered.