Black Urn Fungi

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Black Urn Fungi, Non Edible Mushrooms, Pacific Northwest
Black Urn Fungi, Photo By Robert Logan

Black Urn Fungi is found at higher elevations in the Pacific Northwest. It is native to western North America and Asia. It is a non-edible mushroom species but not fatal if eaten. The black urn fungus was first described in 1928 as a unique fungi growing on conifer wood debris. It begins development under snow and reaches maturity as the snow melts.

It reaches the visible fruiting stage in late July to early September. There are several ways to identify the black urn fungus in its natural setting.

Black urn fungus grows in scattered groups, attached to buried woody debris. They often appear in areas where snow is melting in early summer. They are easily overlooked without the white snowy background.

Examine the goblet-shaped, shallow, cup-shaped fungi. Its body is 1 cm to 3 cm wide on a stem 1 to 4 cm long. The stem is attached to mycelium, a mass of branching, thread-like filament structures that acts as a root system. The cup-shaped fungi that grow from this structure are the fruiting bodies.

Black Urn Fungi, Non Edible Mushrooms, Pacific Northwest
Black Urn Fungi, Photo By Robert Logan

Identify the fungus by its distinctive dark brown or black color. The interior is black and the exterior is a dark brown with orange coloration on the lip of the cup and outer wall. It is smooth when young, becoming wrinkled with age or drying. The cup edge is slightly wavy and curves inward, flaring out with age. Its external surface is covered with delicate brownish-black hairs. The internal surface contains the spore-producing tissue layer.

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