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Ascocoryne cylichnium (Tul.) Korf

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Leotiomycetes - Order: Leotiales - Family: Gelatinodiscaceae

Ascocoryne cylichnium, Hamphire UK

Found on the rotting trunks and branches of various hardwoods, this wood-rotting cup fungus can form conspicuous clusters.

Distribution

Fairly common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, Ascocoryne cylichnium is also found in mainland Europe wherever the are broadleaf woodlands or parklands where fallen timber is allowed to rot away naturally. This ascomycete occurs in many other parts of the world including North America.

Taxonomic history

This species was first described in 1853 by Louis Ren√© √Čtienne (known as Edmond) Tulasne (1815 - 1885), who gave it the scientific name Peziza cylichnium. It was Americam mycologist Richard Paul Korf 1925 - 2016) who, in 1971, transferred this species to the genus Ascocoryne, thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Ascocoryne cylichnium.

Synonyms of Ascocoryne cylichnium include Peziza cylichnium Tul., Coryne cylichnium (Tul.) Sacc., Coryne sarcoides var. cylichnium (Tul.) Rehm, Bulgaria urnalis Nyl., and Ombrophila urnalis (Nyl.) P. Karst., Coryne urnalis (Nyl.) Sacc.

Etymology

Ascocoryne, the genus name, is made up of Asco- the prefix indicating that this fungus belongs to the phylum Ascomycota (fungi whose sexual spores are produced inside asci), and coryne which comes from from the Greek corönë meaning 'knotted rod'. The specific epithet cylichnium comes from the Greek for a goblet - a reference to the shape of the fruitbodies.

Identification guide

Close-up of Ascocoryne cylichnium

Fruitbody

Darkish purple; disc or cup-shaped with a short stem individual fruitbodies grow up to 2cm across, often pushing up against and so distorting one another. The smooth upper (inner, when cup shaped) surface is fertile and contains the asci. (There is no known anamorph of this species.) The flesh is gelatinous.

 

Asci

Typically 190-210 x 13-15µm, with eight spores in each ascus.

Paraphyses

Narrow, clavate, tips typically 3µm across.

Ascospores of Ascocoryne cylichnium

Ascospores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, septate when mature, 20-24 x 5.5-6µm; hyaline; each spore usually contains two oil drops.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic, on rotting trunks and stumps of broadleaf trees.

Season

Fruiting in late summer, autumn and early winter.

Similar species

Ascocoryne sarcoides at its telemorphic stage is similar; it can be identified with certainly by microscopic study of the spores, which are smaller than those of Ascocoryne cylichnium.

Culinary Notes

This insubstantial fungus is generally regarded as inedible.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Groves J W, Wilson D E (1967). The nomenclatural status of Coryne. Taxon 16 (1): 35–41

Dennis, R.W.G. (1981). British Ascomycetes; Lubrecht & Cramer; ISBN: 3768205525.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding, David Kelly and Richard Shotbolt.

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