Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 28, 2004 Newsletter issued from the woods of the Loess Hill Region a few miles east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

Devil's Urn, URNULA CRATERIUMAt home on a fallen twig at the edge of a bluff in Pellucid Bayou were a couple of colonies of Devil's Urn fungus, URNULA CRATERIUM. I was tickled to find these because in the fungus section of my backyard nature site, for a long time I've been needing a picture of a "cup fungus," and Devil's Urn is a perfect example of that. Of course Karen took a fine picture of it and that's it at the right.

Cup fungi such as the Devil's Urn are cup or bowl shaped, and they produce their fungal spores on the inner surfaces of their cups. You probably know that the typical mushroom has paper-thin "gills" beneath their "caps," and that spores fall from these gills. Thus cup fungi have a completely different setup from regular mushrooms. A cup fungus is as different from a regular gilled fungus as a human is from a worm. Completely different "phyla" are involved.

With spring coming on, this is a good time to be watching for the different kinds of fungi. You can get an overview of the most commonly encountered kinds of fungi at my "backyard fungi" page at www.backyardnature.net/f/2fungi.htm

On that page you'll see that there are gilled mushrooms, mushrooms with pores, stinkhorns, coral fungi, puffballs, bird's nest fungi, jelly fungi, rusts, smuts, our cup fungi, and more.