The White Saddle (Helvella Crispa) Identification

White Saddle / Summer / Autumn / Toxic

Scientific Name

Helvella Crispa


Common Names

The White Saddle, Elfin Saddle, Common Helvella.


Family

Helvellaceae


Habitat

In leaf litter, most often Beech and Oak.


Description 

A common, mildly toxic fungus, found  in summer and autumn, its unusual appearance makes it easy to identify.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

Very irregular, white to creamy in colour. Roughly saddle shaped hence the common name.

Björn S…, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

The same colour as the cap, it tend to taper in towards the cap and have flutes or ribs running the length, hollow.

Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

No gills, this species is a ‘spore shooter’ (ascomycetes) rather than a ‘spore dropper’ (basidiomycetes)


Smell:

No real aroma.


Spores:

White.


Known hazards

Some older books might list it as edible but there is speculation that it may contains monomethylhydrazine (used to power the space shuttle), which can cause severe intoxication, and that it may also have carcinogenic properties. So best avoided.


Potential lookalikes

Other members of the Helvella family for example the Elastic Saddle (Helvella Elastica), although this mushroom tends to have a smooth stem. No members of this family are considered edible so are not really of interest to us foragers.

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