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Peziza ammophila

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by Michael Kuo

Brown cup fungi like Peziza ammophila are notoriously difficult to identify with certainty--but this little guy grows on sand dunes and beaches, making it fairly easy to separate from other, superficially similar brown cups. As Peziza ammophila matures, it emerges from the sand and splits, often peeling backwards and forming a star shape reminiscent of earthstars like Geastrum saccatum (but without the central puffball).

Literature for the genus Peziza is hard to come by, and there may be several genetically distinct species "masquerading" as Peziza ammophila. Additionally, synonymy for the species is confusing and poorly documented. Seaver's 1928 treatment of The North American Cup-Fungi is still the most comprehensive Peziza source available, and he does not treat Peziza ammophila--though he does describe Sepultaria arenicola and Sepultaria arenosa as sand-loving species. While I suspect that these names should be regarded as synonyms for Peziza ammophila, the synonymy has not been officially published, to my knowledge.

Thanks to Wendell Wood for collecting, documenting, and preserving Peziza ammophila for study; his collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic, growing alone or in clusters in sand, on or near beaches and sand dunes; spring through winter; probably widely distributed in North America.

Fruiting Body: Cup-shaped and buried in the sand when young, typically emerging somewhat and splitting on the edges, often in a star-shaped manner, and peeling outwards; pale to dark brown on upper and under surfaces; often with a more or less central pseudo-stem, where sand grains are bound together with mycelium. Flesh fragile and brittle.

Microscopic Features: Spores 14-16 x 10 µ; smooth; elliptical. Asci eight-spored; with blue tips in Melzer's Reagent; up to 200 x 15 µ.

REFERENCES: Durieu & Montagne, 1847. ([Seaver, 1928]; Dennis, 1968; Weber & Smith, 1985; Barron, 1999.) Herb. Kuo 04180501.

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Peziza ammophila

Peziza ammophila
Asci in Melzer's

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Kuo, M. (2005, July). Peziza ammophila. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: