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SCARLET ELF CUP

Sarcoscypha austriaca

Elf-Cup Family [Sarcoscyphaceae]

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1st Feb 2013, Ringley Basin, MB&BC canal, Manchester. Photo: © Cliff Bray
Like rather large golf-tees either solitary, on in small groups as here. Grows on the dead wood of deciduous trees often amidst moss.


8th April 2013, Ringley Basin, MB&BC canal, Manchester. Photo: © Cliff Bray
They are up to 5cm across and scarlet red inside.


8th April 2013, Ringley Basin, MB&BC canal, Manchester. Photo: © Cliff Bray
The outside is funnel-shaped, fawn-coloured and covered in whitish hairs.


8th April 2013, Ringley Basin, MB&BC canal, Manchester. Photo: © Cliff Bray
Past their best in March and April. They are quite thick in section resembling a tennis-ball cut in half.


8th April 2013, Ringley Basin, MB&BC canal, Manchester. Photo: © Cliff Bray
Inner surface quite smooth, outer surface covered in hairs. Flesh is fragile and easily damaged.


Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) is visually identical to: Ruby Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea), the two cannot be differentiated without recourse to a microscope, therefore I have nailed two fungi with the same photographs! (which are not photomicrographs). Some sources say that the two can be distinguished by the short felty hairs on the outside of the cup, which on S. austriaca are either curly or corkscrew shaped. Because they do not appear so here, it must be Ruby Elf Cup?

Both are common in Alder carr and Willow carr woodland amongst plenty of moss-covered hardwood litter. Tree shaded ditches are also another favourite habitat. It is rare in many regions of the UK apart from Western Britain. The spores are white.

Some similarities to : Orange Cup (Melastiza cornubiensis)

Slight resemblance to : Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia), Orange Cup (), but that is orange on the inner surface which is not usually hemispherical in shape but more like pencil-sharpener shavings or the peel of a peeled orange. Also, like Orange Cup, it is all the same colour inside and outside.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The scarlet inner. There are other similar-looking Cup Fungi but most are either orange, yellow, cream, buff, brown or charcoal-coloured on the inside, rather than bright red.

As they age they become less hemispherical and more discoidal in shape. At their best in mid-winter. They are saprobic fungi, aka saprotrophic, meaning that they grow on dead and decaying matter, in the above case wood.

No relation to : Orange [a plant with similar name].

As they age they become less hemispherical and more discoidal in shape. At their best in mid-winter.

SEVERAL CAROTENOID PIGMENTS

The scarlet-red colouring is a combination of five types of carotenoid pigments, which includes β-Carotene and PlectaniaXanthin



In comparison to  β-Carotene, in  PlectaniaXanthin the right-hand β-Ionone ring of β-Carotene has been opened out and in the backbone one of the bonds has been converted to a double-bond. Two hydroxyl moieties have also been added. PlectaniaXanthine is a xanthophyll and is usually produced in response to stress (at least in yeasts, and possibly too in Elf Cups). It is mainly responsible for the scarlet-red colour of the Elf Cup fungus Sarcoscypha coccinea and very probably all red-coloured Elf Cups, such as Scarlet Elf cup. It occurs mostly as fatty acid esters of PlectaniaXanthin.


  Sarcoscypha austriaca  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Sarcoscyphaceae  
genus8Sarcoscypha
Sarcoscypha
(Elf-Cups)

SCARLET ELF CUP

Sarcoscypha austriaca

Elf-Cup Family [Sarcoscyphaceae]