CALABOGIE HIKER: Scarlet Cup Fungus (Spring Walk Series)

BLOG 3: The Scarlet Cup mushroom is most likely the first mushroom you will see in the spring woods. The cup is tiny and grows between 3/4 - 2 3/4 inches. The white stem can be up to 1 1/4 inches high. Although tiny, the scarlet colour pops out of the muddy spring forest. At first glance looks it surprisingly like plastic litter...a lid of some sort. Finding others clustered by is why I knew it wasn't litter. This mushroom was white and slightly hairy on the outside and the rim had distinctive inward curved edges. It was growing out of a buried decaying log that was very close to being soil.

The Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) can be found between March and May in Calabogie. The one in my photo was found in mid-April. They usually can be found living on a fallen decayed hardwood branch in wet muddy areas. This one was on a snowmelt creek. This fungus is not edible and sometimes used for decoration. There is reference to the use of powdered Scarlet cup as a drying agent on the bellybuttons of newborns of the Oneida natives and possibly other Iroquois tribes. There are many confusing references saying the cup is edible, inedible or not recommended. Rodents and slugs do eat them sometimes.

(Sources: it'snature.org / . National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, 1995. pp 343.) (Photo by Colleen Hulett)

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