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Helvella crispa      White Elfin Saddle

Saddle fungi are so-called because the fruitbodies of some appear to be roughly the shape of a Mexican saddle.  This similarity is sometimes obscure!  There are several common species of Helvella that are fairly easy to tell apart. Helvella crispa is white to cream, up to 10 cm tall and has a fluted stalk.  It is not common but is widespread in occurrence and can be locally abundant.  The Black Elfin Saddle (= Helvella lacunosa) is very similar in genral shape but is smoky brown to greyish black in colour.  This latter species is more common than H. crispa across the country.  The Common Elfin Saddle (=Helvella elastica) has a smooth whitish stalk and a greyish to smoky brown cap.  It is not as irregularly lobed as the other two species and often looks more "saddle-shaped".  If you find something "saddle-shaped" but big and brown you may have chanced across Gyromitra infula. Don’t eat any of this lot as some of the related Gyromitra species are deadly poisonous.