Major Groups > Saddles > Helvella lacunosa


Helvella lacunosa

[ Ascomycetes > Pezizales > Helvellaceae > Helvella . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Here is a fairly umistakeable species of Helvella featuring a convoluted black cap and an ornately fluted stem with cross-ribs and pockets. At first glance, Helvella lacunosa is likely to be mistaken for something dried-up and blackened, but close inspection reveals a fresh mushroom, quite beautiful in its ornateness and dark colors.

Helvella lacunosa is frequently parasitized by Hypomyces cervinigenus and by the gilled mushroom Clitocybe sclerotoidea.


Ecology: Probably mycorrhizal; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously in woods under conifers--often in disturbed ground (roadbanks, landscaping sites, and so on); in eastern North America usually found in wet, mossy areas in cold conifer bogs; summer and fall, or in winter and spring in coastal California; widely distributed in northern and montane North America, and along the West Coast.

Cap: 1-10 cm across; irregularly lobed and convoluted, or occasionally loosely saddle-shaped; black to very dark brown; bald but wrinkled; the margin attached to the stem in several places; undersurface bald, gray to grayish brown, often ribbed, with ribs extending from the stem.

Flesh: Thin; brittle; chambered.

Stem: 2-15 cm long; 1-3.5 cm thick; sometimes whitish when young, but soon grayish, gray, or nearly black; deeply and ornately ribbed and pocketed--the ribs rounded, or sometimes sharp and double-edged.

Microscopic Features: Spores 14.5-22 x 10-14 µ; broadly ellipsoid; smooth; with one oil large droplet; hyaline. Paraphyses hyaline to brown, with granular contents; cylindric with rounded to clavate apices 2.5-10 µ wide. Excipular surface a palisade of clavate, hyaline to brown elements.

Helvella mitra is a synonym. Some mycologists (e.g. Dissing) believe Helvella sulcata to be merely a form of Helvella lacunosa, but I disagree. See the linked page for further discussion.

REFERENCES: Afzelius, 1783. (Fries, 1822; Saccardo, 1889; Smith, 1949; Smith Weber, 1972; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Abbot & Currah, 1997; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Trudell & Ammirati, 2009; Kuo & Methven, 2010.) Herb. MICH 00022185 (A. H. Smith 77167), 00001789 (N. J. Smith 2013). Herb. Kuo 07209402, 02200310, 01150502, 02230501, 01131107.

Thanks to the Herbarium of the University of Michigan for lending specimens of this species.

Further Online Information:

Helvella lacunosa at MykoWeb
Helvella lacunosa at Roger's Mushrooms


Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa

Helvella lacunosa
Excipular surface elements

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Kuo, M. (2012, August). Helvella lacunosa. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: