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Verpa conica

[ Ascomycetes > Pezizales > Morchellaceae > Verpa . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Verpa conica is a curious springtime mushroom. Its cap hangs free from the stem, rather like a little brown thimble on the end of a pencil. It and its cousin Verpa bohemica are sometimes mistaken for morels, but while they are closely related to these icons of fungal fanaticism, they are not true morels since their caps are not at least partially attached to their stems (also, they differ in having spore-producing asci across the entire cap surface, while morels have asci only in the pits).

The German name for Verpa conica, "Fingerhutverpel," tells you something about both the mushroom and the German language.


Ecology: Probably mycorrhizal; found under hardwoods in spring (or in winter in California, where it also grows under conifers); fairly widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 1.5-4 cm; convex or, more frequently, thimble shaped; typically with a slightly outcurved margin when mature; tan to brown to dark brown; bald; tacky when wet; typically smooth or very slightly wrinkled at maturity, but sometimes broadly lumpy or wrinkled.

Undersurface: Tan to brown to dark brown.

Stem: 2.5-11 cm long; 0.5-1.5 cm thick; more or less equal; sometimes tapered towards the base; creamy white, sometimes tinged with brown shades.

Flesh: Thin and brittle; the cap and stem are hollow, or loosely stuffed with wispy fibers (like cotton candy).

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Microscopic Features: Spores 17-26 x 11-15 µ; smooth; elliptical; without oil droplets. Asci 8-spored. Paraphyses cylindric with rounded to subclavate or capitate apices; septate; to 12 µ wide.

REFERENCES: (O. F. Müller) Swartz, 1815. (Saccardo, 1889; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1984; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Weber, 1995; Kuo, 2005; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Trudell & Ammirati, 2009.) Herb. Kuo 05130302, 05200402, 04250802.

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


Verpa conica

Verpa conica

Verpa conica

Verpa conica

Verpa conica

Verpa conica

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