Elfin Saddle (Helvella Lacunosa) Identification

Elfin Saddle / Summer / Autumn / Toxic

Embark on a journey of caution and awareness as we uncover the secrets of the Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa), a mushroom of alluring yet treacherous nature.

Join us as we explore the delicate beauty and toxic potential of this fungus.

With its unique, saddle-shaped cap and intricate details, the Elfin Saddle casts a spell of enchantment. However, beneath its charming exterior lies a hidden danger. Learn to identify the distinguishing features that set it apart, understand the toxins it contains, and acknowledge the risks associated with this toxic mushroom.

Through knowledge and vigilance, we aim to protect and empower, ensuring your safety in the natural world.

Respect for nature’s warning signs and a commitment to informed foraging practices are paramount. Brace yourself as we unveil the truth about the Elfin Saddle, reminding us of the importance of caution, respect, and responsible exploration of the fascinating but potentially perilous wonders that nature offers.

Scientific Name

Helvella Lacunosa

Common Names

Elfin Saddle, Slate Grey Saddle,




In deciduous, mixed or evergreen forests. Very often on burnt ground.


An unusual-looking mushroom, they are very irregular in shape and are often overlooked as they can be hard to spot. One of the ‘spore shooters’ (ascomycetes).

Identifying Features for the Elfin Saddle:


Very irregular in shape, they are roughly saddle-shaped and dark grey to black in colour. The upper, outer surface is smooth but the underside is felt like to touch.

Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Distorted, hollow and fluted, a similar colour to the caps.

Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


They lack gills, the spores are fired from the wrinkled caps rather than dropped from gills.

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


No really aroma.



Known hazards

One to avoid really, older guidebooks may list them as edible but other species of Helvella are known to cause stomach upset unless thoroughly cooked, their texture and taste is poor and there are also concerns around their carcinogenic properties. So are they really worth the risk?

Potential lookalikes

Other Helvella species most likely the White Elfin Saddle (Helvella Crispa) but as the name suggest this mushroom is white in colour. The Elastic Saddle (Helvella Elastica) could also be confused but again this mushroom is much lighter in colour and has a solid stem.

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