Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coastal BC Fungi: Elfin Saddle

Elfin Saddle

Elfin Saddle with covered compost pit in background.
I haven't been up to my hillside potato patch since I dug them in early October. At that time, I dug a big pit and emptied my compost barrel inside. Last week I went up to add garden trimmings and saw a black mass on the ground. My first thought was a bear had come to partake of my compost. Instead, I discovered was an unusual mushroom.

A clump of Elfin Saddles, one with a stem showing.

It was an Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa). It's also known as a Slate Gray or Fluted Black Elfin Saddle. It was obviously old by mushroom standards. The black irregular cap was intact, but the stem had holes and was bending over. Elfin Saddles are usually solitary. When I looked nearby I found two more.

The large mass at the side shows a stem that has collapsed.

They are often found in disturbed ground (like my compost pit). They are common in Europe, eastern and northern North America, and along the west coast. The caps can be white to blackish gray with a folded, convoluted shape (kind of like bear poo at first glace). The stem is very distinctive with long, grooved ribs and holes indenting the surface.

Another specimen in a nearby thicket, also old and collapsed.

They appear in fall after heavy rains. October for us was extremely wet with many downpours. They prefer Douglas fir forests or areas of older brush. Mine were at the edge of the forest.

A closeup of the stem showing ribs and holes.

References say it is edible, but only young specimens and if cooked. Older ones can have poisonous properties. Caution is also given to be careful in identification because it can be confused with other poisonous varieties.

Here is a video by Richard Powell discovering a patch of Elfin Saddles on Vancouver Island. He's an amateur mycologist (he studies fungi) and has a very interesting blog called 100 Mushrooms on Vancouver Island. In addition to pictures, he includes lots of videos.



And here's an interesting tale about a mushroom hunt involving Elfin Saddles (Helvellas) by Anna at Crazy about Mushrooms. -- Margy

References: The Savory Wild Mushroom by Margaret McKenny and revised by Daniel E. Stuntz (University of Washington Press, 1971), and www.MushroomExpert.com (online).

21 comments:

  1. They should do well with all the rain we've had - I'm tired of it already!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what the guide said, they come out after heavy rains and we sure have had our share of those. It's amazing how much water the dam can suck out in a day though. We were in town one night for about twelve hours. When we got back to the cabin the lake had dropped about a foot. That's an inch an hour. How can one little point in a huge lake have that much effect. - Margy

      Delete
  2. Wow! You can grow ANYTHING!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even things I don't plan on it seems. - Margy

      Delete
  3. I have never seen this!! How cool is that?!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was a first time for me as well. - Margy

      Delete
  4. I've not seen anything like this before, although I don't know much about fungi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to use my guide to figure it out. I learn a lot by doing that. - Margy

      Delete
  5. Looks like a really unusual mushroom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At first I couldn't make any sense of it. That's why my mind went to a pile of bear poop. - Margy

      Delete
  6. I haven't seen any of those. I am on constant mushroom prowl in our yard this year as so wet and want to keep Buddy away from them, never know which ones are poisonous

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's probably the best thing to do, just in case. - Margy

      Delete
    2. Crikey Margy,
      I really thought you were going to say you ate it but then if you had you wouldn't have been weiting about it. Looks too ugly to eat...I love mushrooms saute'd in butter garlic and parsley...Yummy xx
      Best Wishes Di,
      ABCW team.

      Delete
    3. I love mushrooms, but don't know enough to be safe picking in the wild. I understand this one has a strange odour while cooking but is edible. I'll pass just on the looks. - Margy

      Delete
  7. The mushroom in your third photo reminded me of Jabba the Hut. lol

    ReplyDelete
  8. there is so much beauty to be found in nature if one just uses their eyes ;-)

    Have a wonderful ABC-day / – week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)
    http://melodymusic.nl/a-b-c-wednesday-19-s/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to take my camera to capture the wonderful things I see around me. - Margy

      Delete
  9. Now that is a weird thing! Fungi really do look alien!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  10. So what an interesting set of designs

    ROG, ABCW

    ReplyDelete