Violet crown-cup (Sarcosphaera coronaria)

GenusSarcosphaera (1)
SizeCup diameter: 3 – 20 cm (2)
Cup height: 3 – 15 cm (2)

Short-listed for inclusion in the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF), and included on the Red Lists of 14 European countries (3).

The violet crown-cup fungus produces striking, flask-shaped fruiting bodies. These are initially submerged in the soil and then break through the substrate and split open, revealing star-shaped rays (2). The outside of the cup is whitish whilst the inside is a pale violet or brownish colour (2).

WARNING: many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.

Found in North America, North Africa and central and southern Europe (4).

Inhabits wooded areas where there are coniferous trees and calcareous soils (4).

The flask-shaped fruiting bodies of this fungus are often produced in groups; the fruiting period runs from April to June (4).

Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as ‘hyphae’) which are located within the substrate (5). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar mushroom or toadstool) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.

Violet crown-cup fungus is threatened by activities that disturb its forest habitat, such as clear felling and ground damage, or the acidification of forest soils (4).

The protection of known sites from forestry and air pollution, together with population mapping are suggested as conservation measures (4). The violet crown-cup is a candidate species for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Bern Convention (3) (6).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (July 2003)
  2. Jordan, M. (1995) The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe. David and Charles, Newton Abbot.
  3. The distribution, status and habitat requirement of the 33 fungal candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Bern Convention. (June 2003)
  4. European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF) (2001) Datasheets of threatened mushrooms of Europe, candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Convention. Bern Convention Standing Committee.
  5. Pegler, D. & Spooner, B. (1992) The Mushroom Identifier. Apple Press, London.
  6. Bern Convention (June, 2003)