The Fluted Black Helvella Saddle Mushroom, also called the black elfin saddle grows on all of the Pacific Northwest and is quite common. It grows in small groups on the open ground beneath conifer trees. The cap is gray to black, saddle-shaped and usually convoluted with either a smooth or wrinkled surface depending on age. The flesh is quite brittle. The underside is gray to black with a gray stalk that can turn black with age, it is convoluted to fluted with elongated holes. The cap can reach up to 10 cm across and the stalk can be up to 15 cm long.
Look for them from October to December. They grow on the ground in grassy areas among coniferous forests but can sometimes be found in deciduous forests, it has also been reported to grow on decaying wood. They can be found in the Pacific Northwest from the northern B.C. coast to California.
Edible when cooked or dried. If fresh, parboil for 5 or more minutes. It contains a small amount of methyl hydrazine which is toxic. Drying or cooking releases this into the air making it safe to eat. Correct identification is crucial with this mushroom as the similar-looking toxic, false hooded morel and can be confused with it.
Although edible, I would not recommend eating this mushroom. There are far better-tasting ones to harvest. These mushrooms can be confused with the much more toxic, false morel mushroom, which is another good reason to not eat these mushrooms. The variety of good choice mushrooms here on the BC coast is amazing, so there really is no reason to eat mushrooms that are not choice.