Peziza micropus Pers.

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Pezizomycetes - Order: Pezizales - Family: Pezizaceae

Peziza micropus, a young fruitbody

This common pezizoid fungus appears on very rotten hardwood, often inside hollow dead stumps, particularly of Beech trees. Like so many of the commonly encountered cup fungi, identification is made more difficult by its range of colours, which vary with substrate and stage of development.

Distribution

Peziza micropus is fairly common and widespread in Britain and Ireland, and it occurs also in many other parts of Europe and in Asia.

Peziza micropus, an older fruitbody

Taxonomic history

This wood-rotting cup fungus was described in 1800 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who gave it the binomial scientific name Peziza micropus by which it is still generally known today.

Synonyms of Peziza micropus include Aleuria micropus (Pers.) Gillet, Geopyxis cocotina (Cooke) Massee, Lachnea cocotina (Cooke) W. Phillips, Otidea micropus (Pers.) Sacc., Aleuria cerea var. cocotina (Cooke) Boud., and Sarcoscypha cocotina (Cooke) Sacc.

Etymology

Peziza, the genus name, may come from a Latin root referring to a foot - most fungi in this group being sessile (footless or stemless). The specific epithet micropus means 'with a small leg' - a reference to the very short stem of this cup fungus.

Identification guide

Closeup of Peziza micropus

Fruitbody

A shallow cup 1 to 5cm across; inner surface smooth, ochre; outer surface slightly paler and finely granular or floury; margin inrolled; its short, narrow stem is usually buried in the substrate timber and not visible without excavating some of the surrounding substrate.

 

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 15-17 x 8.5-9.5µm.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive. Like nearly all of the cup fungi, this species in inedible.

Habitat & Ecological role

On rotten hardwoods, notably Beech and elms.

Season

June to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

There are at least 100 Peziza species and most are various shades of fawn or brown. Definite identification is rarely possible without microscopic examination.

Culinary Notes

This cup fungus is not considered edible, and it is most probably poisonous if eaten raw or inadequately cooked, when it could at least cause seriously unpleasant stomach upsets. (The same is true of most edible ascomycetes including Morchella esculenta, the Morel, and Morchella elata, the Black Morel.)

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

Donadini J.C. 1981. Le genre Peziza dans le sud-est de la France, avec clef du genre pour la France; Universite d'Aix-Marseille

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

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