This mushroom often first appears in the winter season in the Puget Sound Basin and may continue to occur well into the spring. It is also a common fall species in our region, and is sometimes very abundant along the edges of trails and paths. It occurs in a variety of habitats, including parks, recreation areas, and divider strips along streets, often among mosses, grasses and herbaceous plants or on bare soil, usually in close proximity to oak, pine, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, birch and other trees. The cap is 1-10 cm broad; convoluted and irregularly lobed or sometimes saddle-shaped; usually gray-black to black in color; flesh thin and brittle. The stalk is typically 3-15 cm high, 1-3 cm thick; deeply furrowed longitudinally and often lacunose, and chambered in cross-section; white to gray or blackish in color; appearing as if it was made of wax. Helvella lacunosa is frequently parasitized by a white to pink mold, Hypomyces cervinigenus, and by the gilled mushroom Clitocybe sclerotoidea.
Helvella lacunosa is part of the Burke Museum's Mushroom of the Month 2008 series.
Photo by J. Ammirati