Middle-earth taxonomy ...
The genus Helvella includes a number of saucer or saddle-shaped fungi with a simple stem, cup-shaped forms, and includes some species with irregular and distorted heads and a hollow, ribbed, furrowed stem. It is a widespread, speciose genus of ascomycetes (Pezizomycetes: Pezizales) whose members are found in various terrestrial biomes of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Although easily separated from other macrofungi by conspicuous polymorphic apothecia, it is surprisingly difficult to distinguish between Helvella species. Skrede et al., (2017) suggest there are at least 55 Helvella species in Europe. The White Saddle Helvella crispa and Elfin Saddle H. lacunosa are probably the two most commonly encountered species in the UK.
Despite some recent intermittent heavy rain it was nice to get out and find three, possibly four, species of Helvella. H. lacunosa in its various guises being the most evident with a careful bit of searching.
Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, pp. 602-605, 608.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on earth. Llandysul: First Nature, pp. 207-208.
Skrede, I., Carlsen, T. and Schumacher, T. (2017). A synopsis of the saddle fungi (Helvella: Ascomycota) in Europe - species delimitation, taxonomy and typification, Persoonia. 39, pp. 201-253.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, pp. 310-313.