Major Groups > Saddles > Helvella lacunosa


Helvella lacunosa

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

by Michael Kuo

Here is a fairly unmistakeable 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.

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.

Thanks to the Herbarium of the University of Michigan for facilitating study of the collections cited below.


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.

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.

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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: