Chlorociboria spp. include some of my favorite fungi. Although you don’t see their mushrooms very often, it is quite common to find pieces of wood that have been stained blue-green by Chlorociboria mycelium. This attractive and unusual coloration earned these fungi many common names, including “Green Stain Fungus,” “Blue Stain Fungus,” “Turquoise Elfcup,” and various combinations and derivatives of those. I enjoy finding the stained wood, especially during dry periods or over the winter, when mushrooms are scarce.
mushrooms with a cup morphology
This medium-sized to large cup fungus is distinguished by the prominent vein-like wrinkles on its upper surface. Although it resembles any number of other brown cup fungi, it belongs to the family Morchellaceae and is actually a close relative of true morels! This similarity is borne out through microscopic examination, which may be required for accurate identification. Disciotis venosa is commonly known as the “Bleach Cup,” since it gives off a bleach-like odor when broken, and as the “Veined Cup Fungus,” thanks to its veined upper surface.
These medium-sized cup fungi are bright red, making them easy to spot against the brown colors of the forest floor. Sarcoscypha dudleyi, austriaca, and S. coccinea are all found in the spring during morel season, so make sure to check for morels when you find a Scarlet Cup! These three species are indistinguishable from one another to the naked eye. In order to definitively identify your mushroom, you will have to use a microscope.
The creepiest thing about this black cup fungus is its name. Unfortunately, there’s no good story to go along with the name. If you’re a little disappointed about this, here is a story that I just made up: Some say that each mushroom holds a dead soul that has come back to haunt the world of the living. Sometimes you can even see the soul rise out of the Devil’s Urn and disappear into the air. Although this story is fictitious and tailored to fit the mood of the season, it does have some truth in it. Ascomycetes, which include cup fungi like the Devil’s Urn, often forcibly discharge their spores in a small puff when the air around them is disturbed (by, for example, picking it up or blowing on it). This helps the fungus get its spores into moving air, which can spread the spores across great distances. ...
The defining features of cup fungi include spores borne in asci, a smooth, upper spore-bearing surface, and a sterile surface underneath. Most cup fungi are saprobic, but it has been recently suggested that some of the large cup fungi may be at least partially mycorrhizal. Although I am discussing cup fungi as a morphological type and these fungi are usually grouped together in identification keys, the term “cup fungi” covers a variety of different shapes. So-called “cup fungi” can be flat to slightly turned up at the edges to bowl-shaped to goblet-shaped to vase-shaped to vase-shaped with a slit down the side to shaped like a bunch of cups squished together (accordion style). Despite these various morphologies, this collection of mushrooms is differentiated into at most three groups: small cup fungi, large cup fungi, and ear fungi. To get a better idea of what I describe below, I would recommend...