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Sarcoscypha occidentalis

[ Ascomycetes > Pezizales > Sarcoscyphaceae > Sarcoscypha ... ]

by Michael Kuo

This tiny scarlet cup fungus is found on hardwood sticks and logs (even on leaf litter) east of the Rocky Mountains, in summer and fall--and occasionally in the spring. In my area (central Illinois) its most prolific fruitings are in early summer, just after morel season. Because this mushroom is so tiny, it is easily overlooked or passed off as a piece of brightly colored litter.

Sarcoscypha occidentalis rarely reaches a diameter of more than 2 cm, and has a tiny stem. Other North American species of Sarcoscypha are larger, stemless, and typically fruit in the spring; Microstoma floccosum is also tiny and red, but features a margin fringed with stiff white hairs.


Ecology: Saprobic on decaying hardwood sticks and logs (sometimes on buried sticks, appearing terrestrial--and, apparently, sometimes on leaf litter); late spring through fall; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.

Fruiting Body: Cup shaped to saucer shaped; minute to 2 cm across (rarely up to 4 or 5 cm across); upper surface scarlet red, fading with age, bald; undersurface whitish (but the red color of the upper surface often shows through), bald; stem 1-3 cm, colored like and continuous with the undersurface, base with hairy white mycelium; flesh thin.

Microscopic Features: Spores 18-22 x 10-12 µ; with two or more oil droplets; not sheathed; elliptical; hyaline. Asci 8-spored. Paraphyses filiform; with orangish contents in KOH.

REFERENCES: (Schweinitz, 1832) Saccardo, 1889. (Seaver, 1928; Kanouse, 1948; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Harrington, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; Baral, 2004; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 05099504, 05250201, 05180404; 05120604; 05290702, 06090706, 07030702, 05061203.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Sarcoscypha occidentalis

Sarcoscypha occidentalis

Sarcoscypha occidentalis

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Kuo, M. (2009, February). Sarcoscypha occidentalis. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: