What You Should Know
Tarzetta cupularis is a species of apothecial fungus belonging to the family Pyronemataceae. This is a species of northern Europe with occasional records from further south in Spain and Morocco. It also occurs in North America.
This little cup fungus is officially recognized by its tiny size, the goblet-shaped (rather than saucer-shaped) cup, the presence of an indistinct stem-like base. When young, the fibrils of the cup's outer surface are woven together over the spore-producing surface, creating a protective covering.
It appears from spring to autumn as brown to cream-colored flask-shaped cups up to 2 cm across and 2.5 cm tall in groups in damp woodland. The related Tarzetta catinus tends to be larger with a more open cup, but the two species can only be reliably distinguished microscopically: by the shape of the spores (those of T. cupularis being narrower) and the paraphyses (those of T. cupularis lacking the distinctive lobed tips of T. catinus). T. cupularis is inedible.
Other names: Elf Cup, Grey Goblet.
Tarzetta cupularis Mushroom Identification
Uncertain; one recent investigation (Tedersoo and collaborators, 2006) suggests that at least some species of Tarzetta are mycorrhizal; growing alone, gregariously, or in small clusters; terrestrial; often reported from burn sites; also reported on moss or bare soil under conifers or hardwoods; late spring and early summer; probably widely distributed in North America.
Goblet-shaped from youth to maturity; 5-15 mm across; upper/inner surface smooth, creamy to grayish or yellowish; outer surface hairy to finely mealy or granular; creamy to yellowish, sometimes with brownish pustules and/or whitish hairs, especially toward the margin; when immature with a veil-like covering over the hymenium, later disposed of as hairy or toothlike fragments on the cap margin; pseudostem usually present; odor not distinctive; flesh pale.
Spores 18-22 x 13-15 µ; smooth; biguttulate. Paraphyses with slightly thickened tips, but not lobed or hydra-like. Tips of asci not bluing in Melzer's reagent.
There are at least 100 Peziza species and most are various shades of fawn or brown. Definite identification is rarely possible without microscopic examination.
Tarzetta cupularis Taxonomy and Etymology
When in 1753 Carl Linnaeus described this ascomycete fungus he gave it the binomial scientific name Peziza cupularis. The currently-accepted scientific name dates from 1981, when Czech mycologist Mirko Svrček (b. 1925) transferred this species to the genus Tarzetta.
Synonyms of Tarzetta cupularis include Peziza cupularis L., Pustularia cupularis (L.) Fuckel, and Geopyxis cupularis (L.) Sacc.
Tarzetta, the generic name, is almost certainly a corruption of the Italian noun Tazzeta meaning 'little cup' - a reference to the diminutive size and general shape of fungi in this genus.
The specific epithet cupularis is derived from Latin and means 'like a little cup'.
Photo 1 - Author: LutzBruno (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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Photo 3 - Author: LutzBruno (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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