Public Description of Urnula craterium (Schwein.) Fr.

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Name: Urnula craterium (Schwein.) Fr.
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Description status: Unreviewed


Primarily represented on Mushroom Observer in Eastern North America, though sightings have been noted in Europe and in Northernmost India


Buried hardwood, wet soil, river beds, marshes

Look Alikes:

Craterellus cornucopioides though this is a mid-late summer mushroom and lasts a long time, whereas Urnula is early spring and disappears quickly. Urnula curves back inward at the top like an urn, while Cratellus rolls outward at the top like a trumpet.


Urnula craterium, when grown in liquid culture, produces bioactive chemicals that inhibit the growth of other fungi that are pathogenic to aspen; specifically, these chemical are antagonistic to aspen blue-stain fungi Ophiostoma crassivaginatum and O. piliferum, as well as the wood-decay fungus Phellinus tremulae. Chemicals produced by U. craterium include pestalotin, 5,6-dehydropestalotin, 4-methoxy-3,5-dimethyl-pyran-2-one, and (4S)-3,4-dihydro-4,8-dihydroxy-1(2H)-napthalenone. However, none of these isolated compounds inhibits the aspen pathogens in vitro, suggesting the true nature of the antifungal mechanism in the devil’s urn has not yet been resolved.

Urnucratins A–C (1–3), which possess an unusual bisnaphthospiroether skeleton with one oxygen bridge and one C–C bridge and represent a new subclass of bisnaphthalenes, were isolated from the North American cup fungus Urnula craterium. Their structures, including absolute configurations, were determined by means of HRMS, NMR, and quantum chemical CD calculations. Urnucratin A (1) was found to be active against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, and Streptococcus pyogenes with MIC values of 2, 1, and 0.5 μg/mL, respectively.


“Usually appears about a week before the black morels” – Dave W (Dave W)

Sometimes called the Harbinger of Spring as it is one of the first larger mushrooms to appear in early spring.

Also called witches cauldron. If conditions are right and you find one with spores blowing off in a light breeze you can see why. – Matt Welter (mattfungus)

Some consider it edible, though tough and not tasty.

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Description editor: Matt Welter

Created: 2015-04-23 22:42:33 CDT (-0400) by Matt Welter (mattfungus)
Last modified: 2015-04-23 22:42:33 CDT (-0400) by Matt Welter (mattfungus)
Viewed: 31 times, last viewed: 2018-05-16 14:41:12 CDT (-0400)