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Sarscoscypha coccineaThe Mushroom of the Month for May 2012 is...

Sarscoscypha coccinea...
the scarlet cup

Like all cup fungi, the scarlet cup is in the phyllum Ascomycota which includes the true and false morels. Unlike the tiny Sarcoscypha occidentalis, which we featured last month, the scarlet cup is a larger somewhat fleshy mushroom.

the scarlet cupThe Sarcoscypha coccinea is a cup-shaped mushroom with a cup from ¾ to 3 inches across, ¾ top 1½ inches tall and 1/8 inches thick. The inner fertile surface of the cup is scarlet to deep red sometimes fading to orange with age. The margin is inrolled becoming tattered with age. The outer surface is whitish with minute hairs. There may or may not be a slight stalk. The mushrooms usually occur on fallen hardwood branches in moist areas with the branches partially or totally buried in the soil. The presence and/or length of the stalk depends on how deeply the substrate is buried.

Scarlet cups are edible with a pleasant though mild flavor. The inner surface retains its bright color on cooking so I use this mushroom to add color to mixed mushroom dishes. This spring there was a abundance of these mushrooms starting in late March and into early April so I collected enough to dry some for later use.