On one of my recent forays into the forest to forage for fungi (ha) I came across quite a few fluted black Elfin Saddles. What the heck is an elfin saddle?! It’s a mushroom! It’s part of the Helvella genus, though I haven’t figured out for sure if these are Helvella lacunosa or Helvella vespertina, the latter being a lookalike of lacunosa that appears in Western North America (where I am!)
I have also seen what I suspect is the white version which is called Helvella crispa, or the white elfin saddle.
As I mentioned a few posts back, these were once thought to be edible but have recently been downgraded to “suspect” as they have been known to cause gastrointestinal upset in some people, particularly if consumed raw. The cap is thin and has somewhat of a rubbery texture when cooked, apparently, which doesn’t really sound appetizing anyways. I love the look of these and they are easy to identify with the chambered stem and crinkly top. I had initially collected a handful of them thinking they could be eaten, but after doing further research confirmed what I noted above and that they are not really edible. Because I’m not keen on taking any chances with mushrooms I added them to the compost pile. Now I know not to pick them and will instead just leave them to grow, but I will still stop to admire them and their creepy weirdness, I’m sure!