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Urnula craterium: The Devil's Urn

[ Ascomycetes > Pezizales > Sarcosomataceae > Urnula . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

The Devil's Urn is frequently encountered by morel hunters in the spring, east of the Rocky Mountains. It can be found growing singly or in small clusters, on sticks and small logs--though the wood is often buried so they appear terrestrial. Urnula craterium typically begins to fruit before the black morels, and continues coming up well into morel season. In fact, many morel hunters judge the season's progress on the basis of this odd little mushroom's presence or absence.


Ecology: Saprobic on sticks and small logs (often buried) of hardwoods; growing alone, scattered, or in dense clusters; spring; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.

Fruiting Body: 2-15 cm; shaped like a deep cup or an urn; the opening narrow at first but soon expanding; in age often breaking apart and appearing almost like pieces of a cup fungus; the margin becoming torn and folded back; dark brown on the outside (becoming darker with age), with blackish areas; usually black on the inner surface; the outer surface rough and gritty when young, becoming smooth.

Stem: To 2.5 cm; colored like the fruiting body and continuous with it; tough; blackish towards the base.

Flesh: Tough and leathery; blackish.

Microscopic Features: Spores 24-36 x 10-15µ; smooth, elliptical to spindle shaped.

REFERENCES: (Schweinitz, 1822) Fries , 1851 (Fries, 1822; Saccardo, 1889; Smith, 1949; Dissing, 1981; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981. Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 03309501, 04300501, 03300601.

Further Online Information:

Urnula craterium at Tom Volk's Fungi.


Urnula craterium

Urnula craterium

Urnula craterium

Urnula craterium

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2004, March). Urnula craterium: The devil's urn. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: