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Sarcoscypha austriaca
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Sarcoscypha austriaca

 

Common Name: Scarlet Cup Fungus

Synonyms:

Substrate: Sticks and Logs

Location: Hardwoods

Group: Ascomycete

Comments: 

This is usually one of the earliest mushrooms to come up in the spring time. It is often seen by people hunting morels. It is often fairly small, but can grow up to a couple of inches across. The inner surface of the cup will be a bright red, while the underside will be a pinkish color, turning whitish as it dries. 

It will usually grow from wood that is slightly buried below the duff. Move the duff away to find the wood, and you may find several more fruitbodies that were covered by the duff. Sometimes there will be a short and thick stem on the underside, or the cup section can be directly attached to the wood (sessile).

Lookalikes: 

There are a couple varieties of this mushroom that can only be separated with a microscope. Another name to look at is Sarcoscypha dudleyi, which has two large oil droplets on the end of each spore, as well as many small oil droplets. S. austriaca lacks the two large oil droplets. It only has the many large oil droplets, as seen in the final picture. The spores of this species also frequently have flattened ends. When putting these under the microscope, use a water mount instead of a stain. The oil droplets will show up easier.

Many field guides list the name as S. coccinea, but that species only grows west of the Rocky Mountains, and it has a stem. The Midwestern version with the stem usually appears a little later in the season and is called Sarcoscypha occidentalis. Sometimes the stem will be a couple inches long and is attached to the substrate, while other times the stem is short enough to appear that the cap is directly in contact with the wood it is growing on. It is also a bit smaller than this species.

Photos:

Sarcoscypha austriaca

3/30/13 - Orange County, IN

Sarcoscypha austriaca

3/17/12 - Hoosier National Forest - Orange County, IN

Sarcoscypha austriaca

Spores have many small oil droplets, but not two large droplets on the ends.

Sarcoscypha austriaca

Hairs on the outer surface (white side) are very curly and intertwined.

3/30/13 - Orange County, IN

 

Other Sightings:

3/11/12 - Bloomington, IN