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The Genus Sarcoscypha  

[ Ascomycetes > Discomycetes > Pezizales > Sarcoscyphaceae . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

These bright red cup fungi are fairly common in many areas of North America. One species, Sarcoscypha occidentalis, is easily separated from the others on the basis of its size and its stem. Three other North American species, often treated broadly as "Sarcoscypha coccinea" in field guides, are more difficult to separate, and may require microscopic analysis for identification. All four are keyed out below.


Sarcoscypha coccinea

Key to 4 Species of Sarcoscypha in North America

1.Cup typically < 2 cm across; short stem present; spores < 21 µ long; found east of the Rocky Mountains.

1.Cup larger; stem rudimentary or absent; spores longer.

2.Found in the Pacific Northwest and California; spores usually unsheathed.

2.Found elsewhere; spores sheathed or not.

3.Mature spores with rounded ends; spores with several large (5-7 µ) oil droplets; spores when fresh and viewed in a water mount often encased by a full sheath; hairs on excipular surface not curling and twisted under the microscope.

3.At least some mature spores with flattened ends; spores with many oil droplets smaller than above; spores when fresh and viewed in a water mount lacking a full sheath but occasionally with "polar caps" (a sheathlike covering at each end); hairs on excipular surface curling and twisted under the microscope.


Baral, H. O. (2004). The European and North American species of Sarcoscypha. Retrieved April, 2006 from the Web site of H. O. Baral:

Harrington, F. A. (1990). Sarcoscypha in North America (Pezizales, Sarcoscyphaceae). Mycotaxon 38: 417–458.

Harrington, F. A. (1998). Relationships among Sarcoscypha species: Evidence from molecular and morphological characters. Mycologia 90: 235–243.

Li, L. T. & Kimbrough, J. W. (1995). Spore ontogeny in species of Sarcoscypha. Mycologia 87: 749–758.

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Kuo, M. (2012, April). The genus Sarcoscypha. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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