Monday, February 1, 2010


Helvella lacunosa are a fairly common fungus in northern California that seem to fruit longer than most. The fruiting bodies are quite sturdy and persist for a good long while. I'm told that they fruit with conifers but I find them mostly in association with one of our native trees, coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia). Helvella don't have gills or pores. Rather, they produce their spores on the upper surface of the wrinkly cap.

I had collected several of these, with caps in various shades of gray and black, planning to do several watercolor sketches. They languished in the refrigerator for over a week and today, when I finally got around to sketching, they were rather old and funky. Every time I moved one, or opened the container, spores swirled up, up and about the room. It was sort of like a dust storm. Blggghhh! They're still fruiting so tomorrow I'll try to find some that are a bit fresher.  Apparently they're edible. I've seen several suggestions of ways to cook and eat them while reading about fungi online lately. Not that I'm going to eat them myself! But I did lay them to rest in my backyard. We have a valley oak (Quercus lobata), which is a poor mushroom host, but maybe I'll get some to fruit in my yard next season! My very own helvella garden! How cool would that be? Oh, the sketch of the black capped fungus was done with ball point pen and the color sketch was done in ball point and watercolor.


  1. I hope you grow a helvella garden. That would be so cool. I am intrigued and I hope I can find some of these mushrooms myself. They are all over right now and I am very excited by them.

  2. What lovely musrooms. I want to go out and find some now myself.


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