Taxonomic placement: Scutellinia scutellata (Ascomycota, Pezizomycetes, Pesizales, Pyronemataceae) is a saprobic cup fungus that grows on very wet wood that had already been colonized by other decomposers (Kuo & Methven, 2014). It enjoys a widespread distribution throughout North America (Arora; Kuo & Methven, 2014), but has also been reported from South America (Tabon, 1991), Africa (Douanla-Meli & Langer, 2005), Asia (Batra & Batra, 1963; Chen, 1975; Bi et al., 1993), Israel (Nemlich & Avizoharhershenzon, 1976), and New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (Otani, 1971). I found this specimen growing on the underside of a rotting hardwood log in the Baker Woodlot on South campus.
Carl Linnaeus fist described S. scutellata as Peziza scutellata in his Species Plantarum (1753). Nearly a century later, Lambotte (1887) moved the species into the genus Scutellinia. Yao & Spooner examined this genus in 1996 and synonymized S. scutellata with Peziza crinita because the later species had been described after Linnaeus’ initial publication. Other junior synonyms are Helvella ciliata, Elvela ciliata, Peziza ciliata, P. aurantiaca, Humaria scutellata, Lachnea scutellata, Humariella scutellata, Patella scutellata, and Ciliaria scutellata (Mycobank).
Fruiting body: S. scutellata usually appears in grows on suitable substrate. Young fruiting bodies begin as small spheres that open into small (0.2 – 1.5 cm) shallow cups (Arora, 1976). Despite their small size, they are easy to recognize because of their bright red color and distinct black hairs that conspicuously line the rim of each cup. The hymenium is located on the bright inner surface of the cups, which grow sessile on the substrate. The outside of the cups is light brown (Kuo & Methven, 2014).
Microscopic features: The spores are ellipsoid, approximately 20 µm x 12 µm. They have a
smooth surface when immature, but gain a warty texture when fully mature. Sterile, septate paraphyses with swollen tips often grow between the asci on the hymenium (Kuo & Methven, 2014).
Ecology and relevance to society: This species is important to humans because it is part of the decomposition cycle in forest ecosystems globally.
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