E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Helvella vespertina N.H. Nguyen & Vellinga
fluted black Helvella

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

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Species Information

This species under conifers in the Pacific Northwest has been known as Helvella lacunosa (a name that covers other species as well). Features include an irregularly lobed cap with the margins turned down and fused to the stem (rarely free), colored light to dark gray, the underside bald and pale when young to pale gray, the stem white becoming gray, highly ribbed and with holes in the surface, growth under conifers on the ground or rarely on wood, primarily in fall, and broadly elliptic spores with one droplet. The group of fungi that has been known under the name Helvella lacunosa comprises a number of species, including in the Pacific Northwest the common Helvella vespertina, Helvella dryophila (under oak, at least as far north as Oregon), and undescribed spp. The main description below is derived from Nguyen(1). The Abbott(1) and Arora(1) descriptions provide additional detail but some aspects of the descriptions could come from other hidden species. In particular the full range of colors for Helvella vespertina is not yet precisely known. Helvella vespertina is frequently disfigured by the whitish to pinkish parasite Hypomyces cervinigenus and is, less often, host to Clitocybe sclerotoidea. Helvella sulcata, synonymized by Abbott with Helvella lacunosa, is similar but has a small, pale gray to black cap that is usually saddle-shaped with a deep, well-defined cleft plus a ribbed but not lacunose stem, and often grows on rotten wood. Abbott(1) examined many collections [as H. lacunosa but presumed to represent H. vespertina in large part] from BC, WA, OR, ID, CA, (especially the first two) as well as elsewhere in Canada, USA, and Europe, (Abbott). Helvella vespertina is "widespread and common in the western parts of North America, at sea level in the coastal areas to around 1800 m in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain regions", is known from Vancouver Island (BC), CA, OR and ID and is probably more widespread (Nguyen).
2.5-5(12)cm across, 2.5-5.5(15)cm high, (fruitbody 5-30cm high), with 3 almost smooth lobes and wavy when young, developing brain-like convolutions when old, often with 1 lobe descending on stem; light gray to dark gray, evenly colored to dark-spotty, (Nguyen), 0.5-4.7cm across (up to 7cm when fresh), 0.4-6cm high, irregularly lobed and reflexed [turned down], rarely 3-lobed to 2-lobed or irregularly saddle-shaped, reflexed even when immature, margin fused to stem or rarely free; black to dark gray or dark brown (fresh and dried), rarely pale gray-brown "or somewhat mottled with darkly and lightly pigmented regions"; undulate-rugose [wavy-wrinkled], (Abbott), 1-10cm or more across and high (but averaging 2-5cm), "saddle-shaped or more often irregularly lobed or convoluted". margin typically attached to stem at several points, often curved towards stem; black to grayish-black or gray (or rarely whitish); smooth or wrinkled, (Arora)
thin, rather brittle, (Arora)
apothecial surface pale when young to pale gray, sometimes with some anastomosing ribs, fused with stem in several places, smooth, (Nguyen), pallid gray to dark gray-brown; bald, ribs absent or extending to near marginal regions, (Abbott), grayish to gra
up to 25cm high x up to 10.5cm wide, cylindric, "with rounded to sharp, lengthwise, anastomosing ribs, grooved and lacunose"; white, turning to gray when old, sometimes ochraceous along lower parts of stem along the ribs; smooth, (Nguyen), 2-14cm x 0.3-3.5cm, equal or widened at base, rarely narrowed slightly to base, internally chambered, rarely sulcate [grooved] and solid especially at base; dark gray-brown or pallid in part especially in submerged in substrate; bald, highly ribbed, lacunose [surface with holes], (Abbott), 3-15cm x (0.5)1-3cm, equal or widening downward, convoluted and chambered in cross-section, "deeply ribbed and typically lacunose (i.e., the ribs branching to form elongated holes or pockets)", "ribs often sharp and double-edged"; "white to gray or sometimes black" (often white when young and darker when old), the base often paler, (Arora)
spores 15.7-21.4 x 9.8-12.2(13.7) microns, smooth, with one droplet; asci 8-spored, inamyloid, pleurorhynchous; paraphyses cylindric, 3-5 microns wide, with 4-9 microns wide apex, "with brown intracellular pigment", (Nguyen), spores 14.5-(20) x 10-13 [sic] microns, broadly elliptic, smooth, colorless, with one droplet; asci 238-268 x 13.1-17 microns; paraphyses 3.9-(10) microns wide at tip, terminal cell 124-165 microns long, clavate, enlarged gradually to abruptly at tip, brown, contents finely granular, (Abbott), spores (12)15-21 x (9)11-14 microns, broadly elliptic to nearly round to oblong, smooth or slightly roughened when mature, with one central oil droplet, (Arora)

Habitat / Range

in groups and clusters, "terrestrial in forests and grassy verges", ectomycorrhizal with Pinus (P. muricata - Bishop Pine, P. lambertiana - Sugar Pine, P. ponderosa - Ponderosa Pine), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir), and possibly Abies concolor (White fir) and Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone); fruiting October–March (rarely in April), (Nguyen), (single to gregarious, subcespitose [somewhat tufted], or scattered "on soil or litter, rarely on rotted or burnt wood, in coniferous or mixed woods", from June in MB to April 15 in coastal southern BC, November through April fruitings only from southern area [of Pacific Northwest], June to August fruiting only Canada and Alaska, (Abbott), single, scattered, or in groups in woods and under trees, (Arora)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Genetic information (NCBI Taxonomy Database)
Taxonomic Information from the World Flora Online
Index Fungorium
Taxonomic reference: Nguyen(1)*, Abbott(1) (as Helvella lacunosa), Arora(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Trudell(4)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Ammirati(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Sept(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), AroraPocket* (as Helvella lacunosa)

Additional Range and Status Information Links


yes, do not eat if affected by whitish to pinkish Hypomyces cervinigenus, (Arora), edible, but exercise great caution in identifying or sampling, (Lincoff(1)), not recommended (McKnight)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Nguyen(1)*, Abbott(1) (as Helvella lacunosa), Arora(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Trudell(4)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Ammirati(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), Sept(1)* (as Helvella lacunosa), AroraPocket* (as Helvella lacunosa)

References for the fungi

General References