Helvella leucomelaena

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White Footed Elfin Cup, Vancouver Island, BC
White Footed Elfin Cup, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Robert Logan

Helvella leucomelaena or as it is also called, the White Footed Elfin Cup is pretty rare here on Vancouver Island, but it can be found growing in the Pacific Northwest, occasionally. If you get to see them fruiting you are a lucky mushroom hunter. Helvella leucomelaena can be recognized by its cup shape and color, the inner body is a dull greyish-black to dark greyish-brown, and the exterior is a greyish-black and white color. The contrasting colors are the basis for the species name.

In North America, this fungus is really quite rare, but it has been seen growing in California, Alaska, British Columbia and on Vancouver Island. It can also be found growing in South America and Europe. It prefers to grow in coniferous forests. The white foot may be hidden or obscured by leaves or it could be partially buried in the soil.

White Footed Elfin Cup, Vancouver Island, BC
White Footed Elfin Cup, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Robert Logan

The consumption of this mushroom is not recommended as similar species in the Helvellaceae family contain the toxin gyromitrin. Its a pretty cool looking fungus and one should feel lucky to see it, but just enjoy the sight and leave them be.

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