Cup & Bird's Nest Fungi

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Cup Fungi

Bird's Nest Fungi


Cup Fungi

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)


Habitat & Ecology: uncertain, was thought to be saprophytic but could be mycorrhizal; found on the ground, often on disturbed soil like road cuts and trails; early summer to fall

Fruiting body: medium sized; cup-shaped to flattened disc; bright orange inner or upper surface; outside surface fuzzy at first; no stem

Look-alikes: Similar to the Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) but is orange.

Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca)

Notes: synonym Sarcoscypha dudleyi

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; one or a few on smaller deciduous wood; spring but sometimes winter or late fall

Fruiting body: medium sized; cup-shaped; bright red, smooth inner surface and paler pink-orange, hairy underside; margin might curl inward; no stem

Look-alikes: The Stalked Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis) has a longer stalk, which is whiter and up to one inch long; Shaggy Scarlet Cup (Microstoma floccosum) is red on the inner and outer surface, and has wooly white hairs on the outside and around the rim.

Yellow Fairy Cups  or Lemon Drops (Calycina citrina)

Notes: synonyms are Calycella citrina or Calycina citrina

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; grows in large groups on coniferous and deciduous wood, often barkless; summer to fall

Fruiting body: 1-4mm across; can be shaped like a cup or a saucer; it can be stalked, usually when cup-shaped; bright yellow; smooth

Look-alikes: Dacrymyces stillatus forms small blobs, not cups or discs; Bisporella sulfurina is even smaller, around 1mm and often growing on carbon balls or other crusty black fungi; if the stalk is very well defined and it's growing on another substrate it could be a species of Hymenoscyphus.

Eyelash Cups (Scutellinia scutellata)


Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; large clusters on wet, well-rotted wood

Fruiting body: 0.5-1cm wide; broadly cup-shaped with a rim of black hairs which look like eyelashes; no stem

Look-alikes:  Scutellinia erinaceus is smaller (1-2mm wide) and can be more yellow – potentially pictured last, not sure without scale; Scutellinia umbrarum is larger but grows on the ground, not wood.

Stalked Hairy Fairy Cup (Lachnum virgineum)

Notes: uncommon, this photo is from the Berkshires

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic

Fruiting body: dense white hairs on the outer surface and smooth on the inner, spore-bearing surface


Purple Jellydisc (Ascocoryne sarcoides)  

Notes: This species has two forms. The asexual, or anamorphic stage, looks like a brain-like blob of jelly (not pictured). While the sexual form, the teleomorphic stage, still has a gelatinous texture but is shaped like a cup or a disc with raised edges.

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; on well-decayed hardwood

Fruiting body: disc-shaped cup with a smooth upper side and paler, finely hairy underside


Green Elf Cup or Green Stain (Chlorociboria sp.)

Notes: more often the green-stained wood is seen than the fruiting body of this fungus

Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; on deciduous wood, especially oak and beech; summer and fall

Fruiting body: turquoise, disc-shaped cup with a smooth upper side and paler underside


Hymenoscyphus sp.

Notes: At first, I thought these were Yellow Fairy Cups (Bisporella citrina), which usually grow on well-decayed wood, mostly logs. Often when mushrooms grow out of specific materials an acorn or a pine cone, it is usually a species restricted to that substrate. The Nut Disco (Hymenoscyphus fructigenus) is a very tiny cup fungus that grows on hickory and beech nuts, and in acorn caps, however, they are very pale and barely yellow. Another species Hymenoscyphus epiphyllus is yellow-orange but grows on leaf litter, often oak. Hymenoscyphus calyculus grows on sticks and leaves and is also yellow like Bisporella citrina. 

Hairy Rubber Cup (Galiella rufa)


Habitat & Ecology: saprophytic; in clusters on deciduous wood; summer

Fruiting body: cup-shaped, ranging from a concave rim to an almost flat upper surface; smooth, tan inner surface and dark, hairy outer surface; margin fringed

Flesh: rubbery and gelatinous

Look-alikes: Brown-haired White Cup (Humaria hemisphaerica) has a white inner surface and light brown, hairy outer surface, and grows on the ground and wood.

Elfin Saddle (Helvella crispa)


Habitat & Ecology: presumed to be mycorrhizal but is also saprophytic; on the ground under conifers and deciduous species or mossy wood; in lawns near planted conifers; late summer to fall 

  • Locally – this one was under Norway Spruce next to a pond

Cap: irregularly lobed and resembling a saddle in how it droops down; smooth upper surface and fuzzy underneath; margin is not attached to the stem; all white or yellowish

Stem: “fluted” which means there are grooves and ridges on the surface; hollow inside; glabrous 

Flesh: thin and delicate

Look-alikes: Fluted Black Helvella (Helvella lacunosa) has a dark, almost black cap with a bald underside and a grey stem; Smooth-stalked Helvella (Helvella elastica) grows in the woods, has a smooth, slimmer stem without fluting, and a pale brown cap which is also saddle-shaped but the margin rolls under and inward; False Morels (Gyromitra) are also in the same family and have more wrinkly, inflated caps rather than a disc.

Bird's Nest Fungi

Common Bird’s Nest (Crucibulum laeve)

Dung-loving Bird’s Nest Fungus (Cyathus stercoreus)

Fluted Bird's Nest Fungus Cyathus striatus