Helvella elastica: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Helvella elastica Mushroom
Helvella elastic is a species of fungi in the family Helvellaceae of the order Pezizales. It is found in Asia, Europe, and North America. It has a roughly saddle-shaped yellow-brown cap atop a whitish stipe and grows on soil in woods. The upper cap surface sometimes has a violet tint, and the underside is whitish and hairless. The stipe is slender, hollow, equal, or tapered upward, cream to pale buff.
Consumption of this fungus is not recommended as similar species in the family Helvellaceae contain the toxin gyromitrin.
Other names: Flexible Helvella, The Elastic Saddle, Brown Elfin Saddle, Slender-Stalked Helvella, Smooth-Stalked Helvella, Flexible Lorchel.
Helvella elastica Identification
Probably mycorrhizal; growing alone or gregariously under conifers or hardwoods, on the ground - or, rarely, from rotting wood; late summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.
1-6 cm across; loosely and shallowly saddle-shaped, loosely convex, or irregular, with convex lobes that sometimes fuse by maturity; upper surface bald, tan to brown or grayish-brown; undersurface whitish to pale brownish, bald, only rarely ingrown with stem where contact occurs; the young margin folding downward, towards the stem, rather than curling upwards.
2-11 cm long; to about 1 cm thick; more or less equal; cream-colored; bald; hollow.
Spores 18-24 x 11.5-15 µ; elliptical; smooth; usually with one central oil droplet and up to 5 small droplets at each end. Paraphyses hyaline to pale brownish (especially in a water mount); with granular contents; apices clavate to subcapitate, 5-11 µ wide. Excipular surface with only a few projecting elements that are hyaline, septate, and 2-3 µ wide.
Helvella elastica Look-Alikes
Appear similar on casual inspection - but a closer look reveals a difference in the usual shape of the cap; Helvella elastica has edges that fold inwards, towards the stem, in all stages of development, while the cap edges in Helvella latispora are often curled upwards. Also, the undersurface of Helvella elastica is bald, rather than finely granular or hairy.
Very similar but the underside of its cap is densely hairy.
Has a fluted, broader stem with external grooves and internal hollow channels.
Has a grey-brown or black cap and a broader stem with external grooves and internal hollow channels.
Has a thicker stipe and a two- to the four-lobed cap.
Helvella elastica Taxonomy & Etymology
In 1785 when French botanist-mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard described this woodland ascomycete he gave it the binomial scientific name Helvella elastica by which it is still generally known today.
Helvella elastica has several synonyms including Helvella albida Schaeff., Helvella fuliginosa Dicks., Helvella pulla Holmsk., Helvella klotzschiana Corda, Leptopodia elastica (Bull.) Boud., Leptopodia klotzschiana (Corda) Boud., and Leptopodia pulla (Holmsk.) Boud.
Helvella is an ancient term for an aromatic herb. The specific epithet elastica comes from Latin and means elastic or flexible. (Elastic Saddle is one of the many other common names that this species has acquired.)
Mushrooms in this genus are sometimes referred to as Elfin Saddles, and you may wonder why not Fairy, Pixie, or Goblin Saddles, for instance. American mycologist Michael Kuo offers a plausible answer when he reminds us that the original name that Elias Magnus Fries provided for the genus was Elvella rather than Helvella.
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