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Cyathus julietae

by Michael Kuo, 20 December 2022

This little bird's nest fungus is found in tropical and subtropical areas, and will require microscopic examination for successful identification; Cyathus julietae is characterized by especially small spores (relative to the spores of similar fungi). It is very similar to Cyathus pallidus, but the latter species has somewhat larger spores and, ironically, somewhat smaller fruiting bodies. Additionally, the "eggs" of Cyathus julietae are more likely to be elliptical, rather than circular, in outline.

Based on morphology alone, I believe a good case could be made for treating Cyathus julietae as merely a form of Cyathus pallidus with slightly smaller spores. However, contemporary, DNA-based studies have not put this question to the test, to my knowledge, so I will follow the authors cited below and maintain the separation until some graduate student somewhere announces that there are actually 54 cryptic species.

Thanks to Sister Mary Philomena, O. P., for documenting, collecting, and preserving Cyathus julietae for study; her collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing gregariously or in clusters on woodchips or organic debris; appearing year-round; originally described from Jamaica (Brodie 1967); distributed from South America through Central America, and the Caribbean, and into southern North America (Mexico, the Gulf States of the United States); also reported from China. The illustrated and described collection is from Texas.

Nest: 5–8 mm high; 4–7 mm wide; goblet-shaped; outer surface hairy with both fine and long hairs, yellowish to pale tan; inner surface bald, shiny, with or without faint vertical lines, yellowish brown; "lid" yellow-brown and hairy, soon disappearing.

Eggs: 1–2 mm wide; elliptical or roundish in outline; flattened; blackish; smooth; attached to the nest by cords (but the cords can be very difficult to find, especially for the eggs near the top of the pile); cortex single-layered.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6–9 x 5–6 µm; broadly ellipsoid or occasionally subglobose; smooth; hyaline in KOH.

REFERENCES: H. J. Brodie, 1967. (Brodie, 1950; Brodie, 1975; Gómez & Pérez-Silva, 1988; Zhao et al., 2004; Trierveiler-Pereira & Baseia, 2013; Cortez et al., 2014.) Herb. Kuo 09192201.

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Cyathus julietae

Cyathus julietae

Cyathus julietae

Cyathus julietae
Peridiole ("egg")

Cyathus julietae

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