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Elfin's Saddle (Helvella Lacunosa)

(PID:22115114585) Source
posted by Sharon Emma Goldring alias Sharon Emma Photography on Monday 12th of October 2015 06:50:31 PM

Helvella lacunosa, the Elfin's Saddle, is rather morbid in its appearance, with both the stem and the cap in shades of leaden grey. This species seems to favour rich soil and burnt ground, against which as a background it is not at all conspicuous and so is easily missed. These saddles are often so distorted that it is impossible not to feel sympathy for the poor elfin creatures reputed to ride on them - or enough, perhaps, to undermine any belief in elves. A fairly common find in Britain and Ireland, Elfin Saddle fungus occurs also throughout mainland Europe, from Scandinavia right down to the southern shores of the Iberian Peninsula. This species is also found in North America. Elfin Saddle was first validly described and named scientifically in 1783 by Swedish naturalist Adam Afzelius, who called it Helvella lacunosa; this has remained its generally-accepted scientific name to this day. Synonyms of Helvella lacunosa include Helvella scutula var. cinerea Bres., Helvella mitra L., Helvella sulcata Afzel., Helvella leucophaea Pers., Helvella subcostata Cooke, Helvella costata Berk. Helvella cinerea (Bres.) Rea, and Helvella lacunosa var. sulcata (Afzel.) S. Imai. Helvella is an ancient term for an aromatic herb. The specific epithet lacunosa means 'having holes' and is a reference to elongated oval troughs in the surface of the fluted stems of these sombre woodland fungi. Why is the common name Elfin Saddle? Why not Fairy, Pixie or Goblin Saddle, you may wonder. American mycologist Michael Kuo offers a plausible answer when he reminds us that the original name that Elias Magnus Fries provided for the genus was Elvella rather than Helvella - so perhaps elves really do ride on these swarthy saddle fungi in the dead of night. Photographed at Angmering Estate Park, West Sussex, UK

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  • Published 07.02.22
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