What You Should Know
Helvella leucomelaena is a species of fungi in the family Helvellaceae of the order Pezizales. It is recognized by a Peziza-like cup shape, the hymenium dull grayish-black to dark grayish-brown, and the exterior grayish-black and white. The contrasting colors are the basis for the species name. The short stipe, if present, has broad folds and ribs that extend short ways onto the cup. It is found in spring and early summer in conifer forests, especially along paths and roadsides.
In North America, this fungus is rare, but it has been collected in California, Alaska, and the Rocky Mountains. It has also been found in South America and Europe. It typically grows in coniferous forests, and the white stem may be hidden or obscured by leaves or maybe partially buried in the soil. It can be found from spring to early summer.
Consumption of this fungus is not recommended as similar species in the family Helvellaceae contain the toxin gyromitrin.
Other names: Sooty Cup, White-footed Elfin Cup.
Helvella leucomelaena Mushroom Identification
Ascocarp sessile to substipitate, 1.5-4.0 cm broad, urn-shaped to cupulate, in age the margin sometimes spreading and torn in a stellate pattern; hymenium dull gray-brown to blackish-brown, glabrous; external surface whitish at the base, dull grey to blackish-brown, above, pubescent with a hand-lens; stipe when present, very short, consisting of whitish folds or blunt ribs; context thin, brittle, approximately 1.0 mm thick, two-layered, watery-gray and whitish; odor and taste mild.
21.0-25.0 x 11.5-13.0 µm, elliptical, smooth, thin-walled, with a single oil droplet at maturity; asci tips inamyloid; spores inamyloid, white in deposit.
Solitary to scattered on soil among conifer needles; found in coastal and montane forests in the spring; fairly common but easily overlooked.
Helvella leucomelaena Look-Alikes
Is similar but has a distinct, ribbed, white stem that extends to the base of the cup, and an exterior that is lighter than the hymenium.
Brown to ochre-brown, the ribs reaching from the base of the stipe to the cup margin.
In 1801 Hendrik Persoon described this species, but changed his mind in 1822, naming it Peziza leucomelaena, to be verified in volume 1 of his work Mycologia Europaea from 1822, being also the name valid binomial.
Then, the Swedish mycologist John Axel Nannfeldt (1904-1985) transferred the correct species to the genus Helvella under the preservation of the epithet, to be verified in issue 219 of the botanical publication Fungi Exsiccati Suecici from 1941, which is the currently valid name (2020).
The species has been described under several other taxa, all of which are accepted as synonymous, but which are not used until now (2020).
From 2019, mycologists Karen Hansen and Xiang Hua Wang are working to replace the current name with Dissingia leucomelaena.
Helvella leucomelaena Synonyms
Peziza leucomela Pers., 1801
Peziza leucomelaena Pers., 1822
Peziza leucomelas Pers., 1822
Acetabula leucomelaena (Pers.) Sacc., 1889
Acetabula leucomelas (Pers.) Sacc., 1889
Paxina leucomelaena (Pers.) Kuntze, 1891
Paxina leucomelas (Pers.) Kuntze, 1891
Helvella leucomelas (Pers.) Nannf., 1941
Acetabula calyx Sacc., 1873
Paxina calyx (Sacc.) Kuntze, 1891
Dissingia leucomelaena (Pers.) K.Hansen & X.H.Wang (2019)
Photo 1 - Author: Ron Pastorino (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Björn S... (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: Björn S... (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 4 - Author: Björn S... (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Shape: Cup Fungi
Please help improve Ultimate Mushroom:Submit