What You Should Know
Otidea bufonia is a species of apothecial fungus belonging to the family Pyronemataceae. This is a rare European species occurring singly or in small groups on soil in woodland. The fruit body appears from late summer to early autumn as a dark brown, deep cup, split down one side, up to 6 cm (2.4 in) high, and the same across.
Widespread but uncommon to rare, this rather brittle cup fungus occurs in all kinds of woodlands and beside tracks and lanes. It is found throughout much of mainland Europe.
Other names: Toad's Ear.
Otidea bufonia Mushroom Identification
Elongated cup with a split down the shorter side and edges overlapping rather than merely abutting; inner surface smooth, dark brown; outer surface mid brown and scurfy; 3 to 6cm tall and 1.5 to 4cm across; thick brown stem up to 1cm long.
Eight spores per ascus. Asci are typically 180 x 11µm, and they are interspersed with paraphyses that are long and narrow with sharply-curved tips.
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 13-15 x 6.5-7µm, each generally containing two oil drops.
Odor and Taste
Saprobic, in mossy woodlands and woodland edges; often beside and sometimes on forestry tracks.
June to early November.
Otidea onotica is a much paler orange-brown ear fungus and usually produces smaller cups. The Bay Cup Peziza badia is smaller and does not have a slit down the side with overlaps; its spores are much larger than those of Otidea bufonia.
Otidea bufonia Taxonomy and Etymology
In 1822 when Christiaan Hendrik Persoon described this ascomycete fungus he gave it the binomial scientific name Peziza bufonia. It was the French mycologist Jean Louis Emile Boudier (1828 - 1920) who in 1907 transferred this species to the genus Otidea, renaming it Otidea bufonia, its currently accepted scientific name.
The genus name Otidea is a reference to the ear-like form of fungi in this group, while the specific epithet bufonia means 'like a toad'.
Otidea bufonia Synonyms
Peziza umbrina Pers. (1800)
Scordelina umbrina (Pers.) Gray (1821)
Peziza cochleata var. umbrina (Pers.) Fr. (1822)
Peziza bufonia Pers. (1822)
Peziza pseudobadia Cooke (1877)
Aleuria pseudobadia (Cooke) Gillet (1879)
Aleuria bufonia (Pers.) Quél. (1886)
Geopyxis bufonia (Pers.) Sacc. (1889)
Geopyxis pseudobadia (Cooke) Sacc. (1889)
Otidea umbrina (Pers.) Bres. (1892)
Otidea pedunculata (Pers.) Velen.. (1934)
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Photo 2 - Author: Holger Krisp (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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Photo 4 - Author: Alan Rockefeller (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)