The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 24, 2003


Eyelash Fungus

Name: Eyelash fungus, eyelash pixie cup, a member of the genus Scutellinia and probably Scutellinia scutellata. The name translates to "a little bowl that is like a bowl." It is classified as a "sac" fungus in the division Ascomycota, because the sexual spores are produced in sac-like mother cells called asci.

When and where found: In the Towle Field woods on October 19, and in the Estabrook Woods during the Boston Mycological Club walk on October 18. Both findings were on old well-rotted birch logs close to the water's edge. The ones in Towle were in a small cluster sharing the log with numerous other kinds of fungi. The ones in Estabrook had colonized six to eight feet of the log.

Distinguishing characteristics: The scientific name is fixated with the shape and the fruiting body is indeed perfectly round and very like a shallow bowl or a saucer but many fungi share this characteristic. The best differentiators are the reddish-orange color of the upper surface, the size, and the little black hairs around the rim from which it gets its common name. Even though they're brightly colored you have to slow down to spot them they tend to be in poor light and the large ones are only about half an inch in diameter. Many in a colony will be a quarter inch across, or smaller. When it's very wet, the "eyelashes" collapse and look like a lumpy black rim. At other times you can see the eyelashes without a magnifying glass wellsome people can. The size, the length of the eyelashes, the substrate, and shape of spores are used to determine the exact species within the genus.

Lookalikes: Those of you with horses may have seen the "Eyelash Dung Cup" growing on horse dung. It is about the same size but yellowy-orange rather than reddish- orange and has very tiny dark brown hairs on both the rim and the underside. If you don't mind getting close to the substrate, you might be able to identify it.

Reference: David Arora, Mushrooms Demystified; Gary H. Lincoff, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito