The Featured Mushroom for December 2012 was
aka: the White Elfin Saddle
Helvella crispa has a white, saddle-shaped cap on a ribbed or grooved stalk sometimes with holes between the grooves. The edibility is questionable. Some authors describe it as edible, others claim it is not edible, others claim that though edible for some it causes gastric distress for others. I have tried Helvella crispa and found it to be relatively tasteless with a chewy texture. I do not recommend eating this mushroom.
The white, saddle-shaped cap ranges from 5/8 to 2 ½ inches wide and 3/8 to 2 inches high. The edge of the cap is in-rolled when young expanding as the mushroom ages. The cap is often lobed with intricate folds in the center. The underside of the cap is minutely hairy. The whitish stalks are ribbed or grooved often with holes between the grooves. The stalks range from 1 to 3 ½ inches tall and ¼ to 1 inch wide. When cross-sectioned the stalk displays interior chambers. Helvella crispa grows in both deciduous and coniferous forests often on disturbed ground like the edge of paths and roads. The white elfin saddle fruits from July through October.
Though small and not a good edible, Hellvella crispas are rather lovely smallish mushrooms. They are available from mid-summer to fall. Helvella lactea is a look-alike with a white to creamy cap and a grooved stalk but the underside of the cap is not hairy.