Scarlet Elf Cup: Profile
Scarlet Elf Cup, Scarlet Elfcup, Scarlet Cup, Moss Cup, Red Cup, Fairies’ Baths
Sarcoscyphaceae (Cup fungi)
Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere. Common and widespread in Britain and Ireland.
Where to find Scarlet Elf Cup
Dead wood near streams and deciduous woodland. It’s quite often hidden under leaf litter.
When to find Scarlet Elf Cup
Early winter to early spring.
How to identify Scarlet Elf Cup
Scarlet Elf Cup grow in dead wood amongst the leaf litter. The fruiting body takes appearance of irregularly shaped cups with a smooth, bright red inner surface and a whitish felted outer surface. The edges of the young specimens are often slightly incurved while mature ones may develop split edges. The stem is very short and thin, barely noticeable.
Scarlet Elf Cup lookalikes
The less common Ruby Elf Cup () is practically identical, however both of them are edible.
Some Peziza sp. may resemble superficially. Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia) are also related to Scarlet elf cups but are orange in colour, instead of bright red.
All about Scarlet Elf Cup
These little gems appear in the depths of winter, when not too many things are growing in the wild. The fruiting bodies display a flash of bright colour amidst the boring monochrome landscape characteristic of the season.
Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea) is virtually indistinguishable from the similar Ruby Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) without microscopy. Both of them are generally reckoned to be edible and their vivid red colour serves to distinguish them from anything else.
Indeed, the edibility of Scarlet Elf Cups is disputed. Some sources still list the fungi as inedible, perhaps because the texture is quite different to what you’d normally expect from a mushroom. Nonetheless, Scarlet Elf Cup has been eaten for years with no bad reports.
Culinary uses and recipes with Scarlet Elf Cup
Scarlet Elf Cups have a subtle earthy flavour with a slightly woody texture. They can be stir fried and sprinkled in salads for colour.
The fruiting bodies seem to be designed to use them like little baskets. Fill them with any other seasonal ingredients to make raw wild canapés, like Three Cornered Leek, Garlic-Mustard, Wild Garlic or Wood Sorrel.
Safe foraging of Scarlet Elf Cups
No hazards known.
Ecological importance of Scarlet Elf Cup
Scarlet Elf Cup helps to decompose dead wood and recycle nutrients, supporting the growth of early spring plants.
This mushroom is a food source for rodents and slugs.