Cup fungi and morels

Ascomycete fungi with a cup-shaped fruiting body, or a few with the cup distorted into a saddle-like shape, or forming a network of ridges. The spores are formed from the surface inside the cup and are shot upwards into the air. Sometimes, when a fruiting body of one of the larger species is moved into the sun, or gently blown on to, clouds of spores can be seen to be released. Most are saprobic on fallen plant material, sometimes on soil. Cyttaria is parasitic on Nothofagus, forming galls on branches and twigs. There are many genera of cup fungi in New Zealand. Only a few of the larger or more distinctive genera are treated here. Descriptions and images for most of the New Zealand species of both inoperculate and operculate discomycetes are available through the NZFungi web pages.


NameImageDescriptionNZFungi Entry


Small, bright yellow or greenish cups, often in large swarms. Saprobic on fallen wood.
Two species have been reported from New Zealand, but they are taxonomically poorly understood and others are also present.


Small, blue-green cup fungi, saprobic on fallen wood which is also stained blue-green. Some species stain the infected wood internally, in others the stain is confined to the surface of the wood. Some species are characteristically associated with rotten wood, with the texture of a white rot, others are associated with wood which remains hard. Wood infected by these fungi is sometimes used for dec...


Deep, thin-fleshed cups up to about 2 cm across, translucent-pinkish in colour. Saprobic on wood, which is often very hard and blackened on the surface.
There is a single New Zealand species, found also in Australia and tropical Asia.


The beech strawberry. Parasite of silver beech, the large, globose, fruiting bodies developing in clusters on galls on living branches.
Three species in New Zealand, related to species in Australia and South America that are also parasites of Nothofagus.


The false morels. These large operculate discomycetes have lobed and distorted, sometimes saddle-shaped caps and well-defined stalks.
There are at least two species in New Zealand, the indigenous G. tasmanica and the exotic G. infula. Both are poisonous.
Superficially similar in shape to the morels, but lacking the well-ordered network of ridges found in the morels (see <...


Morels. In New Zealand these fungi have been found only in human habitats and are assumed to all be introduced. Saprobic (or possibly mycorrhizal) on soil. Spring fruiting, these fungi often appear at the same site year after year.
Four species have been reported from New Zealand; however they have not been investigated for the region taxonomically.
Edible and choice, but can be confused...


Large, black operculate discomyctes, with broad cups up to 10 cm diam. and short stalks.
Four species have been recorded for New Zealand, all indigenous.
The less common Pseudoplectania nigrella is macroscopically similar, distinguished by its globose ascospores.