Hairy Rubber Cup

Galiella rufa (formerly Bulgaria rufa)
Not recommended/not edible
Family

Sarcosomataceae

Description

Cup-shaped; inside surface reddish to brownish; outside blackish brown and hairy. It grows in clusters on dead deciduous wood. July–September. Cup closed and urn-shaped when immature, then opening to become a shallow cup; outer surface blackish brown and hairy; inner surface reddish to chocolate brown; texture tough and rubbery; flesh is rubbery, gelatinous, and sometimes squishy. Stalk (if present) thick; blackish brown; with a dense covering of hairs. Spore print reddish brown. Spores magnified are elliptical, with narrow ends and tiny warts.

Lookalikes: Devil’s urn (Urnula craterium) has a blackish inner surface and fruits in the spring. There are other brown to black cup fungi, but none with thick, gelatinous flesh.

Size

Cup width: ¾–1¼ inches; stalk length: to ¾ inch; stalk width: to 5⁄8 inch.

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Photo of hairy rubber cup mushroom, young specimen just opening up
Hairy Rubber Cup (Young Specimen)

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Photo of a hairy rubber cup mushroom, cut in half.
Hairy Rubber Cup
The interior of a hairy rubber cup mushroom is gelatinous and rubbery.

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Photo of hairy rubber cup fungi that are maturing and getting wrinkly
Hairy Rubber Cup (Aging Specimens)
Habitat and conservation

Grows clustered on dead deciduous wood, including sticks and small logs. When they grow on buried dead tree roots, it can look like they're growing out of the soil.

image of Hairy Rubber Cup distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

Not edible.

Life cycle

This species exists as a network of fungal cells (mycelium) within rotting wood. The mycelium obtains nourishment by digesting, and rotting, the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the cuplike "fruiting body"—the reproductive structure—outside the wood. Spores are produced inside the cup and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium can live for decades.

Human connections

Whether edible or not, fungi have important roles in nature, benefiting humans indirectly by keeping forests productive and healthy. They each also possess a strange beauty in color, texture, and form that humans can enjoy.

Ecosystem connections

Fungi are vitally important for a healthy ecosystem. This fungus feeds on dead hardwoods such as oaks, decomposing their fallen logs, branches, and buried roots. This cleans the forest and helps nutrients to cycle back into the soil.