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Helvella vespertina

[ Ascomycota > Pezizales > Helvellaceae > Helvella . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Found under conifers in western North America, Helvella vespertina is one of several North American species recently broken away from Helvella lacunosa. Its physical features are virtually indistinguishable from other species in the lacunosa group—except that Helvella vespertina is usually a bit larger, and not infrequently quite a bit larger than the others. Smaller specimens, however, will need to be identified by assessing the mycorrhizal host, since the other currently described lacuonsa-like species in western North America, Helvella dryophila, is associated with oaks rather than conifers. Absent a notable size difference or confidence in the host tree, DNA sequencing will be required, since microscopic features are more or less the same.

Thanks to Hugh Smith for documenting, collecting, and preserving Helvella vespertina for study; his collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with conifers—especially Bishop pine, Ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and Douglas-fir; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; originally described from northern California (Sonoma County); precise range uncertain but possibly widespread in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains. The illustrated and described collections are from northern California.

Cap: 3–10 cm across and 3–8 cm high; irregularly lobed and convoluted; black to dark gray; bald but wrinkled; the margin attached to the stem in several places; undersurface bald, gray to grayish brown.

Stem: 5–14 cm long; 1.5–6 cm thick; more or less equal; whitish to grayish, becoming darker gray to grayish brown with age; deeply and ornately ribbed and pocketed; ribs with blunt edges; basal mycelium white.

Flesh: Thin; brittle; chambered; whitish to grayish.

Odor: Not distinctive.

Microscopic Features: Spores 16–21 x 11–14 µm; broadly ellipsoid; smooth; with one oil large droplet; hyaline in KOH and in water. Paraphyses 5–7.5 µm wide; filiform, with clavateto subcapitate apices; smooth; hyaline to brownish, often with granular contents. Excipular surface a palisade of clavate, hyaline to brown terminal elements.

REFERENCES: E. C. Vellinga & N. H. Nguyen, 2013. (Nguyen et al., 2013; Beug et al., 2014; Desjardin, Wood & Stevens, 2015; Landeros et al., 2015; Siegel & Schwarz, 2016; Skrede et al., 2017.) Herb. Kuo 01150502, 02230501, 01131107.

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Helvella vespertina

Helvella vespertina

Helvella vespertina

Helvella vespertina

Helvella vespertina

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Kuo, M. (2021, July). Helvella vespertina. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: