Encoelia furfuracea (Roth) P. Karst. - Spring Hazelcup

Phylum: Ascomycota - Class: Leotiomycetes - Order: Helotiales - Family: Cenangiaceae

Encoelia fuffuracea, young apothecia, County Antrim

This uncommon ascomycete fungus appears most often on dead ior dying Hazel stems, and particularly the straightish poles that spring up when Hazel trees and bushes are coppiced. As the common name suggests, fresh apothecia of this cup fungus usually appear just as the first spring bulbs are coming into flower.


Encoeliua furfuracea is found throughout Britain and Ireland, where it is most commonly recorded in the south. This ascomycete is also known to occur across much of Europe and Asia as well as North America.

Spring Hazelcup fungus - mature apothecia showing fertile surfaces

Taxonomic history

This wood-rotting cup fungus was described in 1800 by German botanist Albrecht Wilhelm Roth (1757 - 1834), who gave it the binomial scientific name Peziza furfuracea.It was Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten who, in 1864, gave this species its currently-accepted scientific name Encoelia furfuracea.

Synonyms of Encoelia furfuracea include Peziza furfuracea Roth, and Dermea furfuracea (Roth) Schwein.


The specific epithet furfuracea means 'scurfy' or 'mealy' - a reference to the texture of the infertile outer surface of this cup fungus.

Identification guide

Infertile surface of Spring Hazelcup fungus


Initially ashallow cup 1 to 5cm across;outer surface scurfy and pale brown; margin initially inrolled; stemless, erupting through the bark either singly or, more often, in small clusters.

Closeup of fertile surface of Spring Hazelcup fungus

Inner (fertile) surface smooth, orange-brown asci are 8-spored and typically 6 x 95µm.



Ellipsoidal, smooth, typically 10 x 2µm.

Spore print



Not distinctive. Like nearly all of the cup fungi, this species in inedible.

Habitat & Ecological role

On stems of Hazel and Alder, with one confirmed UK record on Hornbeam.


Persisting through the year, with new apothecia appearing from late winter until the end of spring.

Similar species

Encoelia fimbriata is similar and occurs generally in larger clusters and nearly always on willows (Salix spp.) but occasionally Prunus species; its asci are tapered cylinders and the ascospores are shorter and much broader than those of E. furfuracea.

There are many cup fungi of various shades of fawn or brown. The key discriminating macroscopic features of Spring Hazelcup are its scurfy light brown outer surface and its substrate - nearly always Hazel.

Culinary Notes

This cup fungus is not considered edible.

Reference Sources

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

Breitenbach, J. & Kränzlin, F. (1984). Fungi of Switzerland. Volume 1: Ascomycetes. Verlag Mykologia: Luzern, Switzerland.

Medardi, G. (2006). Ascomiceti d'Italia. Centro Studi Micologici: Trento.

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.


This page includes poictures kindly contributed by Donna Rainey.

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