Major Groups > Saddles > Helvella sulcata


Helvella sulcata

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

by Michael Kuo

How cool is this little mushroom?! Like a little gray saddle sitting on a fluted pedestal, Helvella sulcata is usually found fruiting around well decayed hardwood stumps. Its color ranges from nearly black to nearly white, but its overall shape and proportions remain stable.

Although some mycologists (e.g. Dissing, 1966; Abbot & Currah, 1997) have argued that Helvella sulcata is merely a form of the better known species Helvella lacunosa, I will eat my hat if contemporary study discovers they're right about this. Helvella sulcata is clearly morphologically distinct (seriously; just look at the pictures), and one does not encounter "intermediate" forms, looking kind of like Helvella lacunosa and kind of like Helvella sulcata. Additionally, the North American ranges of the two species are separate, overlapping only from the Great Lakes northward--and within the region of overlap, the two species grow in different ecosystems; Helvlella lacunosa prefers wet, boggy areas where conifers are present, while Helvella sulcata appears around stumps and rotting debris of hardwoods in upland woods.


Ecology: Probably mycorrhizal; growing scattered or gregariously on and around well decayed hardwood stumps in upland woods; spring through fall; distribution uncertain but potentially widely distributed in eastern North America.

Cap: 1-5 cm across; saddle-shaped, three-lobed, or loosely and irregularly lobed or folded (especially when young); pale to dark gray--or sometimes nearly black or nearly white; bald; undersurface bald, pale gray to whitish, exposed when young or in irregular caps; margin ingrown with the stem in places when mature.

Stem: 1-6 cm long; to 2 cm wide; more or less equal; extensively ribbed, but the ribs not generally forming holes or pockets, and not extending onto the undersurface of the cap; whitish to grayish; basal mycelium white.

Chemical Reactions: KOH on surfaces negative.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores: 14-18 x 10-12.5 µ; elliptical; smooth; with one large oil droplet. Paraphyses hyaline to brownish in KOH and water; cylindric, becoming clavate with maturity; 4-11 µ wide. Excipular surface elements hyaline to brown; often arranged in bundles; frequently septate; terminal cells clavate.

REFERENCES: Afzelius, 1783. (Fries, 1822; Saccardo, 1889; Weber, 1972; Bessette, Miller, Bessette & Miller, 1995; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 08070902, 05281102.

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Helvella sulcata

Helvella sulcata

Helvella sulcata

Helvella sulcata

Helvella sulcata

Helvella sulcata
Asci and Paraphyses

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