Observation 119419: Helvella phlebophora Pat. & Doass.

When: 2012-12-08

Collection location: Green Mountain, Kitsap Co., Washington, USA [Click for map]

Who: Brian McNett (KitsapMycologist)

No specimen available

This may well be Helvella lacunosa. I’d most certainly call it a Helvella. The cap, however, is neither saddle-shaped, or ornately convoluted.


Spore size and shape doesn’t appear to be particularly diagnostic. This image is approximately 400×. My sectioning technique needs work, and the specimen is already becoming severely desiccated even before reaching the dryer.

Proposed Names

53% (2)
Recognized by sight
51% (3)
Based on microscopic features: microscopic features are not very helpful in this group (Lacunosae)…

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Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
By: Brian McNett (KitsapMycologist)
2012-12-09 16:11:42 CST (-0500)

There seemed to be no signs of parasitization to my eye (I’ve seen plenty of parasitized Helvellas myself).

Actual Color
By: Brian McNett (KitsapMycologist)
2012-12-09 16:08:49 CST (-0500)

The actual color of this mushrooms cap is a dark grey. It’s very much neutral in tone with no hit of brown whatsoever. Any coloration in the photo is definitely a color-balance issue with the camera. As noted, I’ve had issues with outdoor images being too blue, and under indoor lighting images are too red. The specimen is no longer fresh… quite desiccated even before reaching the dryer. In the process of drying out, the cap has darkened substantially and is now black.

What is the true color?
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-12-09 15:56:43 CST (-0500)

If the photos do not reflect true colors, what is the actual color in your opinion, Brian? Looks reddish-brown in the cap to me.

Also have to be aware of possible parasitization here. H. lacunosa often parasitized by Clitocybe sclerotoidea (I find it often in Clark Co., WA) as well as a few other species. Most of these parasites turn the entire fungus into a white lumpy mass, broken by cafe au lait ribs. The only part here that might be construed as parasitized would be the hymenium. But in my experience, usually the parasites arise from the base of the stipe to engulf the entire fungus. Sometimes in less than 2 hours.

Helvella phlebophora?
By: Brian McNett (KitsapMycologist)
2012-12-09 11:27:13 CST (-0500)

I think that’s a good call, Irene. I’d be interested in knowing more about the species. I see it recorded from China, and Europe, but have no info on its North American range.

Destined for the microscope
By: Brian McNett (KitsapMycologist)
2012-12-09 10:04:40 CST (-0500)

I’ve collected this, and it will be going under the microscope today. There may be some color balance issues with the camera. Daylight photos appear too blue, and in room lighting I find images to be too red. To my eye the cap lacks any brown or brownish overtones. Please take the image colors with the appropriate grain of salt.

Keys out in Smith, Smith & Weber as
By: Daniel B. Wheeler (Tuberale)
2012-12-09 00:05:25 CST (-0500)

Helvella lacunosa. But I don’t believe that identification is correct here. The cap is much too shallow overall; the stipe over expanded (long); the cap is also brown or brownish, not “typically some shade of gray to almost black”. I think Nancy Smith-Weber would concur this is not the same fungus shown in “How to Know the Non-Gilled Mushrooms”. But the question of what it is remains unsolved. Hope you have collected and dried this collection!

This REALLY needs microscopy.

Created: 2012-12-08 22:23:49 CST (-0500)
Last modified: 2012-12-09 13:03:53 CST (-0500)
Viewed: 105 times, last viewed: 2018-04-29 22:08:03 CDT (-0400)
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