What You Should Know
Helvella atra is a species of fungi in the family Helvellaceae of the order Pezizales. It is easily recognizable by its drooping margins and naked, pileus-covered stem, as well as the naked outer surface of its pileus and its characteristic colors.
This mushroom is toxic when raw and is one of several "saddle fungi" that can be found in forests, particularly near footpaths. These fungi are often overlooked because they are dark in color and resemble dried-up leaves.
Like morels, saddle fungi may have the ability to form a mycorrhizal relationship with trees, but they can also survive by feeding on dead wood. Helvella atra is found in North America, central Europe, China, and Japan.
Other names: Black Saddle Fungus, Schwarze Lorchel (German), Roetkluifzwam (Netherlands), Chřapáč Tmavý (Czech Republic), Siodłówka Czarna (Poland).
Helvella atra Mushroom Identification
Dark brown to black; saddle-shaped head with a smooth stem. Its height reaches up to 10 cm. The infertile inner surface is mainly gray in color, darkening with time to a dark gray almost black, also being pruinose or finely furfuraceous.
Up to 4 cm in diameter with a shape of a small irregular saddle, with 2 glued lobes and edges partly attached to the foot.
0.5 - 5 cm long, 0.1 - 0.8 cm in diameter, smooth, slightly pubescent, with longitudinal ribs at the base, gray-brown, black
With a pleasant smell, waxy.
It grows from summer to autumn on bare ground, both in small groups and individually. Mainly on the edges of roads and byways of mostly deciduous forests.
Spores ellipsoidal, smooth, colorless, with one large droplet, 16-19 x 10-12 µm.
Helvella atra Look-Alikes
Has a gray-brown or black cap with a more massive and deeply grooved stem.
Has a similar size and a beige cap that is less angular. The stem is white.
Helvella atra Taxonomy and Etymology
Johann Gerhard König named this saddle fungus Helvella atra in 1770, and this scientific name is still generally accepted today. The generic name Helvella refers to an aromatic herb, and the specific epithet atra means black.
Helvella atra Synonyms
Helvella fallax Quél. 1876
Helvella nigricans Schaeff. 1774
Leptopodia atra (J. König : Fr.) Boud. 1907
Helvella atra Video
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