Helvella crispa

 Helvella crispa (Scop.) Fr. (1822)

Phylum:  Ascomycota
Class: Pezizomycetes
Order: Pezizales
Family: Helvellaceae
Genus: Helvella
Species: crispa
Helvella crispa beneath White Birch, Lansing MI

Helvella crispa beneath White Birch, Lansing MI


Helvella crispa, also known as the white saddle, elfin saddle or common helvel, is an ascomycete fungus of the Helvellaceae family. The mushroom is readily identified by its irregularly shaped whitish cap, fluted stem, and fuzzy undersurfaces. It is found in eastern North America and in Europe, near deciduous trees in summer and autumn.The fungus was originally described as Phallus crispus by the naturalist Scopoli in 1772. In Latin the adjective crispa means  ‘wrinkled’ or ‘curly’.
Helvella crispa is creamy white to beige in color, 6–13 cm (2½–5 in) in length, with a cap that is 2–5 cm in diameter. It is striking due to its irregularly shaped lobes on the cap, but with a robust creamy-white to deeper beige at the base (2–8×1–2.5 cm in size). Its tissue brittle and breaks easily. The stem is 3–10 cm (1¼–4 in) long, white, tan, or slightly pink in color and dramatically ribbed. It gives off a pleasant aroma, but is not edible raw. The spores are white, and oval with an average size of 19 x 11.5 μm. Occasionally white capped forms are found.

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