Two uncommon Ascomycota fungi in Worcestershire, Geopora sumneriana (Cooke) M. Torre. (Cedar Cup) and Helvella leucomelaena (Pers.) Nannf. (White-footed Elfin Cup)
Brett Westwood & John Bingham
A visit to Shavers End quarry on the Abberley Hills on March 11 2012 BW discovered a number of small cup fungi growing on old quarry waste under Scots pine, a species he tentatively identified as Helvella leucomelaena. This identification was later confirmed by John Bingham. The fruit-bodies were dark grey in colour inside about 2-4cm across with a pale grey outer colour with short ribbed stalk. The photograph shows the cups somewhat dry and faded a little.
The fungus is said to grow on sandy soils in woods or heaths but the quarry waste appears to have been a suitable substrate. It is a rare species thinly scattered across southern Britain with apparently just two previous records for Worcestershire from the south of the county. (British Mycological Society Checklist).
On March 21st 2012 following a report by Roger Stickland of unusual fungi, BW visited his garden in Kidderminster in search of Geopora (Sepultaria)sumneriana an uncommon and large cup fungusi that grows under cedar trees. There was a remarkable mass fruiting of over 100 fruit-bodies scattered on the northern side of the tree. The owner reported that the tree was 30 years old and this was the first year it had produced any cup fungi. It was also the first year it had produced cones, whether that is significant remains unknown.
The fungus forms an underground sphere, an ascocarp that breaks the surface to form a crown-shaped cup, pale on the inside with a roughly hairy dark brown outside layer. The cups are 5-7 cm across and up to 5cm tall. Like most cup fungi the flesh is brittle. It is a vernal species associated with cedar trees and very rarely possibly with yew.
Uncommon in Britain and mostly southern south of a line from the Severn to Humber. There are a few records for Worcestershire , most around the Malvern area, no doubt due to the presence of cedar trees in larger gardens and grounds in that area. (BMS Checklist).
Both fungi were reported to John Bingham who supplied further information and visited both sites to obtain the pictures.
Sterry, P. & Hughes, B. 2009. Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools. Collins
British Mycological Society Checklist of Fungi http://www.fieldmycology.net/GBCHKLST/gbchklst.asp
Fig. 1. Helvella leucomelaena.John Bingham
Fig. 2. Geopora sumneriana.John Bingham