Partial Key to North American Cup Fungi
NOTE: Although I enjoy microscope work, I try to avoid it whenever possible when I am identifying mushrooms. However, cup fungus identification often requires a microscope--especially if one has collected one of the many brownish cups found in North American woods. Thus the key below delays using microscopic features for as long as possible--but does, inevitably, resort to them when the microscopic piper must be paid. Many places in the key are still undeveloped; I apologize to readers whose cup fungi are not yet included.
|1.||Mushroom tiny or quite small, holding structures that look remarkably like "eggs" in a "bird's nest."|
|1.||Mushroom not appearing like a bird's nest with eggs.|
|2.||Cups when young growing partially underground (usually in clusters), the margin later peeling back in vaguely star-like rays; inner surface pale lilac to purplish when fresh; common in the Rocky Mountains and western North America, more rare in the east.|
|2.||Not completely as above.|
|3.||Growing in burned areas (burned forests, camp-fire pits, and so on).|
|3.||Not growing in burned areas.|
|5.||Margin of cup with tiny hairs, reminiscent of eyelashes or fringe (a hand lens may be required)--and/or undersurface of cup hairy.|
|5.||Margin of cup without eyelashes or fringe; undersurface of cup smooth, velvety, granular, finely fuzzy, pustulate (and so on) but not hairy.|
|6.||Upper surface whitish to pale tan or pale bluish; undersurface with brown hairs that contrast with the paler surface underneath.|
|6.||Upper surface brightly colored (red, orange, yellow); hairs on undersurface variously colored.|
|7.||Cup 1-3 cm across at maturity.|
|7.||Cup 2-7 cm across at maturity; usually with a ribbed pseudo-stem (often submerged in the ground) measuring up to about 2 x 2 cm; spores 25-30 µ long.|
|8.||Stem absent; undersurface densely hairy, appearing more or less brown from the hairs; spores 20-25 µ long.|
|8.||Pseudo-stem usually present (often submerged in the ground); undersurface sparsely hairy, appearing pale; spores 30-45 µ long.|
|9.||Cup goblet-shaped, fringed with prominent tufts of white hairs, about a centimeter across when mature; stem long and well developed.|
|10.||Mature spores with oil droplets.|
|10.||Mature spores without oil droplets.|
|12.||Hairs pale yellowish or, at the most, light brown; growing on dung or occasionally on plant debris or soil.|
|12.||Hairs dark brown; growing only on dung.|
|13.||Mature cup usually over half a centimeter across; hairs not branching (under the microscope).|
|13.||Mature cup usually less than half a centimeter across; hairs along the margin not branching, but hairs farther down the cup's outer surface branching.|
|14.||Cup with a well developed stem that is fairly long in proportion to the cup (not stubby or rudimentary).|
|14.||Cup without a stem, or with a stubby or rudimentary stem.|
|15.||Growing from sticks or (sometimes buried) woody debris in spring in eastern North America; goblet-shaped when young; inner/upper surface black; outer/under surface brown to black, usually scaly; stem black, tapered to base.|
|15.||Not completely as above.|
|16.||Stem prominently ribbed; cup yellow brown to brown, grayish brown, or gray.|
|16.||Stem not ribbed; cup variously colored.|
|17.||Ribs, by maturity, extending onto the undersurface of the cup.|
|19.||Cup tiny and bright red; growing from sticks or buried woody debris in hardwood forests east of the Rocky Mountains.|
|19.||Not completely as above.|
|21.||Cups minute (4 mm wide or less); growing on hickory shells, acorns, and other "nutty" debris; uniformly whitish to pale yellow.|
|21.||Not completely as above.|
|22.||Cups bright orange; stem whitish; common on the West Coast but rare or absent elsewhere in North America.|
|22.||Cup not orange; stem variously colored; variously distributed.|
|23.||Cups darkly colored (very dark brown to black).|
|23.||Cups paler than above (tan, grayish brown, brown, or gray).|
|24.||Widely distributed in montane and northern North America; growing terrestrially in woods; spores with one large oil droplet.|
|24.||Apparently limited to western North America; growing from woody debris under conifers, often in spring, near melting snowbanks; spores without oil droplets.|
|25.||Mature spores elliptical.|
|26.||Stem whitish, stout (about as long as the cup is wide, or shorter); cup pale to medium grayish brown.|
|26.||Stem brownish to brown, not stout (usually longer than the cup is wide at maturity); cup medium to dark brown.|
(= H. villosa, H. pallidula)
|27.||Growing on the ground (if "the ground" is actually your carpet or flooring, see Peziza domiciliana).|
|28.||Flesh thick and gelatinous; upper surface drab orangish or reddish; outer surface dark brown or black; spores warted; growing in clusters on hardwood sticks and logs east of the Rocky Mountains.|
|28.||Not completely as above.|
|29.||Broadly attached to the wood so that only the extreme margin can be lifted; flesh somewhat gelatinous or rubbery.|
|29.||Attached to the wood centrally, but not broadly; flesh fairly brittle.|
|30.||Spores stippled or warted.|
|31.||Mature cup less than 1 cm wide.|
|32.||Warts 1 µ or longer.|
|33.||Entire fruiting body blue to greenish blue; growing from greenish stained wood.|
|35.||Upper surface bright red when fresh.|
|35.||Upper surface otherwise colored.|
|36.||Cup larger; spores longer.|
|37.||Found elsewhere; spores sheathed or not.|
|38.||Mature spores with rounded ends; spores with several large (5-7 µ) oil droplets; spores when fresh and viewed in a water mount often encased by a full sheath; hairs on excipular surface not curling and twisted under the microscope.|
|38.||At least some mature spores with flattened ends; spores with many oil droplets smaller than above; spores when fresh and viewed in a water mount lacking a full sheath but occasionally with "polar caps" (a sheathlike covering at each end); hairs on excipular surface curling and twisted under the microscope.|
|39.||Cups bright yellow; under half a centimeter across.|
|39.||Not completely as above.|
|40.||Cup with a (proportionally) substantial stem; growing on small sticks or twigs.|
|40.||Cup lacking a stem; growing on logs or stumps.|
|41.||Growing on twigs of willows; spores 12.5-16 µ long; paraphyses not septate.|
|43.||Tips of asci bluing in Melzer's reagent or IKI.|
|43.||Tips of asci not bluing in iodine mounts.|
|44.||Spores smooth, without oil droplets; upper surface brown, often wrinkled near the center; undersurface whitish and minutely fuzzy; cup usually flattening out with maturity.|
|44.||Spores roughened or nearly reticulate.|
|45.||Appearing in late spring or early summer in temperate areas; spores roughened but not reticulate, often developing smooth caps at each end.|
|45.||Appearing in late summer and fall in temperate areas; spores nearly reticulate, not developing smooth caps at each end.|
|46.||This portion of the key is not yet developed . . .|
|47.||Cup bright red; collector admits it could have been growing from buried wood, and only appeared to be "terrestrial."|
|47.||Cup not bright red; truly terrestrial.|
|48.||Cup yellow or orange overall.|
|48.||Cup otherwise colored.|
|49.||Margin of cup bruising and discoloring bluish to greenish; commonly collected from the Rocky Mountains westward in spring or early summer (rare or absent in eastern North America).|
|49.||Not completely as above.|
|50.||Cup bright orange; not usually split down one side or appearing truncated (chopped off); spores warted; paraphyses with rounded ends.|
|50.||Cup dull orange or dull yellow; usually split down one side and/or appearing truncated; spores smooth; paraphyses with hooked ends.|
|51.||Cup usually split down one side (often appearing like an erect rabbit ear) but not appearing truncated; inner surface usually with pinkish hints; spores 12-14 x 6-7 µ.|
|51.||Cup sometimes split down one side, but usually appearing truncated (almost never appearing like an erect rabbit ear); inner surface without pinkish tints; spores 14-16 x 7-9 or 9-11 x 5.5-6.5 µ.|
|52.||Cup split down one side, appearing somewhat like a rabbit ear standing erect.|
|52.||Cup not shaped as above.|
|53.||Outer surface brown; inner surface orangish to pinkish or reddish; growing under hardwoods in eastern North America; spores 35-40 µ long.|
|53.||Not completely as above.|
|54.||Spores with 2 or more oil droplets.|
|55.||This portion of the key is not yet developed; it consists of brownish species of Otidea (in the sense of Kanouse, 1949). For a few commonly collected species, see Otidea onotica and Otidea alutacea.|
|56.||Cup growing partially underground in sand dunes and on beaches; tips of asci bluing in Melzer's reagent or IKI; spores smooth, 14-16 x 10 µ.|
|56.||Not completely as above.|
|57.||Flesh brittle, when crushed exuding a juice that turns yellow on exposure to air (staining your fingers, the surfaces of the cup, or white paper).|
|57.||Crushed flesh not exuding a yellow staining juice.|
|58.||Tips of asci bluing in Melzer's reagent or IKI.|
|58.||Tips of asci not bluing in Melzer's reagent or IKI.|
|59.||Spores roughened or nearly reticulate.|
|60.||Mature cup 3-8 cm across; appearing in late summer and fall in temperate areas; spores nearly reticulate, not developing smooth caps at each end.|
|60.||Not completely as above.|
|61.||Mature cup 3-10 cm across; appearing in late spring or early summer in temperate areas; spores roughened but not reticulate, often developing smooth caps at each end.|
|61.||Not completely as above.|
|62.||This portion of the key is not yet developed . . .|
|63.||Paraphyses with granular orangish to yellowish orange or red contents in a 2% KOH mount (cup-like species of Gyromitra).|
|63.||Paraphyses not as above.|
|64.||Spores in a water mount without apiculi or with pointed to blunt apiculi that do not appear scooped out.|
|65.||Found in the Pacific Northwest; spores with two prominent oil droplets, 10-14.5 x 7-9.5 µ, very finely warted, lacking apiculi.|
|65.||Variously distributed; spores primarily with one prominent oil droplet (sometimes with 2-3 droplets), much longer than above, usually appearing smooth with light microscopy, with or without prominent apiculi.|
|66.||Apiculi absent or, if present, broadly rounded.|
|67.||Cup deep, with a ragged or lacerated upper margin; outer surface two-toned: grayish brown above, but whitish toward the base; base indistinct, vaguely pinched and ribbed.|
|67.||Not completely as above.|
|68.||Spores with homogeneous contents; mature cup often very wrinkled or veined, at least centrally.|
|68.||Not completely as above.|
|69.||Spores smooth and elliptical, with 2 oil droplets in a KOH mount; flesh pale; cups .5-4 cm across, usually remaining deeply cup-shaped throughout development; often with a rudimentary pseudo-stem (usually buried in the soil).|
|69.||Not completely as above.|
|70.||Cup surfaces bright pink; usually growing in recently burned areas.|
= Tarzetta rosea
|70.||Cup surfaces not pink; usually growing in non-burned areas.|
|71.||Mature cup under 2 cm across; paraphyses with rounded, subclavate, or subacute apices (not lobed or hydra-like).|
|71.||Mature cup larger than above (2-4 cm across); paraphyses developing irregularly lobed or hydra-like tips.|
|72.||Pseudo-stem usually present; paraphyses becoming irregularly lobed but not hydra-like; spores 20-24 µ long.|
|72.||Pseudo-stem usually absent; paraphyses becoming irregularly lobed and developing hydra-like tips; heterosporous (spores falling into two size groups: 20-24 µ long and 12-14 µ long).|
|73.||This portion of the key is not yet developed . . .|
[For references for Gyromitra, Helvella, and Sarcoscypha, see the reference lists on the linked pages.]
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Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2012, October). Cup fungi. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/cups.html