When: 2008-02-12

Collection location: Clinton, Whidbey Island, Island Co., Washington, USA [Click for map]

Who: Sam Linse (BearwoodSam)

No specimen available

Found on rotting red alder branches in second growth mixed coniferous forest.
Black brown cups fungus on hardwood. Quite sturdy, not jelly like at all. Exterior surface has a matt texture, shiny black fading to dark brown as it nears the stem. Stem is short and tough and the flesh appears to be lighter. The second photo shows the underside of one cup including the broken stipe.
Interior surface is shiny black or brown no matter if there is water collected in it or not.
Thought this would be a cinch to ID, but now I’m not sure. I’m thinking Plectania melastoma or Bulgaria inquinans or Sarcosoma latahense?

Species Lists


Proposed Names

-14% (2)
Recognized by sight: Color, size, fine hairs, on decaying wood.
Used references: Pacific Northwest Key Council
49% (4)
Used references: Tylutki, E. E. 1979. Mushrooms of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest Discomycetes. Univ. Press of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. 133p.
Maguire, R. 1982. Sarcosomataceae. Keys to Pacific Northwest Mushrooms. Privately Published by Pacific Northwest Key Council, Portland, OR.

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= Observer’s choice
= Current consensus


Add Comment
Plectania season in the Seattle area too…
By: Luke Bayler (Matango)
2008-02-14 14:04:38 EST (-0500)

Can you check the spores or whether it is operculate?

Pseudoplectania melanea
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2008-02-14 09:55:32 EST (-0500)

Could be a match! Description sez: young cups are yellow-brown, spotted w/black, with a roughened (not hairy) exterior and a short to longish stipe. Man, this long distance asco ID is a bitch! Here’s what the Key Council has to say:

Let’s raise a “cup” to Darvin’s final determination, if I’m not jumping the (spore) gun!

on second thought…
By: Sam Linse (BearwoodSam)
2008-02-13 23:38:11 EST (-0500)

I see what you mean about the stipe. Found some pictures of sliced Sarcosoma latahense and they obviously have quite a lot of gelatinous tissue in the cup. I sliced the cup I collected and the leathery tissue is pretty uniform from rim of the cup to the base. So I’m back to square one really. How about Pseudoplectania nigrella or am I shooting in the dark?

By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2008-02-13 20:34:13 EST (-0500)

I wouldn’t be put off by the wrong fruiting time, not these days at least. In the short time that I have been collecting mushrooms (fifteen years or so) our “springtime amanita” A. velosa, has started appearing as early as November!

I would be more concerned about the nature of the stipe (your photo shows a short, cylindrical one, assuming the white spot on the underside is the broken
stipe) and your statement that it is NOT gelatinous, altho this mushroom apparently does toughen up with age. S. latahense should have a broader base with a well-developed and persistant gelatinous interior (Handbook to Strategy I Fungal Species in the Northwest Forest Plan, page S1-142).

Stipe and fine hairs
By: Sam Linse (BearwoodSam)
2008-02-13 17:50:47 EST (-0500)

There is a short stipe, yes, maybe .5 to .7cm long. I broke it when I collected it and it was surprisingly tough. The collected sample is now dry and I can now see a glisten of very small fine hairs on the exterior of the cup. I continued to work on keying it out and believe it keys to Sarcosoma latahense using http://www.svims.ca/council/Sarcos.htm
The only issue there is the time of fruiting which is said to be April-June, but microclimates abound on this temperate island.

By: Erin Page Blanchard (CureCat)
2008-02-13 15:02:01 EST (-0500)

Ahh, you’re correct. I didn’t realize ALL Plicaria species grow from ash. But I looked it up, and that is the case. I also cannot tell that there is a stipe in the photo. The description states one is there, but I can’t seem to make it out.
Anyway, back to the drawing board!
Thanks for pointing out the discrepancies.

? How can you tell?
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2008-02-12 17:44:30 EST (-0500)

What macro characteristics make this a Plicaria? Arora states that Plicaria grow in ashes, and are stalkless. This specimen is growing on hardwood, and has a stalk. I’m no asco expert, just curious how you made the determination.

By: Erin Page Blanchard (CureCat)
2008-02-12 15:21:56 EST (-0500)

Plicaria looks like a good fit, but I’m not positive. Anyone else?