sophruss5's picture

Red Cup Mushroom

Observed: 15th March 2011 By: sophruss5

Found on fallen sycamore branches in an off the path area of the reserve at Falls of Clyde. Sorry the photos are not that great, it was a rainy day!


Caution: Do NOT use iSpot to identify fungi to eat!

Some fungi are very poisonous so a mistaken ID could have serious consequences.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


RHoman's picture


I am intrigued by the identification of this and other scarlet elf cup observations as Sarcoscypha austriaca. Why is that species? I have seen one or other of the 2 red Sarcoscypha species locally and in the end gave up on trying to determine the species, so what's the secret?

Robert Homan

flaxton's picture

Robert The two almost

The two almost identical species are S austriaca and S coccinea. It is actually impossible to split them in the field but you need to examine them under a microscope. The first has flat ended spores and the hairs on the outside of the cup are corkscrew shaped but S coccinea spores are rounded and the hairs are straight. I have never found S coccinea but I will post the photos of S austriaca. The splitting of these two is only for the serious so I feel happy confirming Scarlet Elf Cup and leave the finder to put a scientific name to it.

Fenwickfield's picture

Write up

There is a section in my book by M Jordan that states the following. S austriaca formerly identified as S coccinea,a distant species in which spores and surface hyphae differ microscopically but which has not been recorded in recent times in Britain.I don't know if this help's or I have just added to the confusion.



RHoman's picture

ID Comments

Thank you both for your comments. I have tried looking at the hairs on the outside of the cup of the specimen that I found, but didn't have any success.
Being a bit on the pedantic side, and although it isn't really mission-critical, I suppose any Scarlet Elf Cups not subjected to microscopic analysis should go down as Sarcoscypha coccinea agg., which I note is listed in the iSpot species list. As my one and only mushroom shows, I'm no expert on fungi and am coming at this from the perspective of the lepidoptera, where there are a number of examples of the need to use the aggregate designation unless adults are dissected (November Moths for example) and indeed of species which are under- or unrecorded as observers assume it is something else (e.g.the bramble feeding Stigmella species).

Robert Homan

AlanS's picture

Sarcoscypha species

I claim the distinction of first recognising S. austriaca in Britain, and had I not had 3 films ruined by camera malfunction and foolishly waited another year to publish (and perhaps had I not demonstrated the species at a discomycete workshop run by a guy from Kew) I would have beaten the Kew people into print (but I did get an acknowledgement!).

a) the species CANNOT be distinguished macroscopically and EVERY record posted on iSpot named to species without microscopic confirmation should be disregarded.
b) S. coccinea is the much rarer of the two, at least in Scotland, but it is complete nonsense to claim it is not still around. It seems to prefer dryer conditions and it is usually a slightly brighter, more pillar-box red in colour, but these are not reliable distinctions.

I collected extensively in the Clyde Valley and can confirm I only ever found S. austriaca at the Falls of Clyde, so these photographs ARE probably correctly named (but S. coccinea does occur elsewhere in the Clyde Valley).

(wondering if he should complicate matters by mentioning the 3rd species ...)

RHoman's picture

3rd species

Go for it!

Robert Homan