Scientific name: Sarcoscypha austriaca
As its name suggests, the scarlet elfcup is a bright red, cup-shaped fungus. It is widespread, but scarce, and can be found on fallen twigs and branches, in shady, damp places.
StatisticsCup diameter: 1-5cm
When to seeJanuary to April
AboutThe scarlet elfcup displays bright red cups with short stems. It can be seen in late winter and early spring on fallen twigs and branches (often Hazel, Elm and Willow), usually buried under moss. It is reasonably widespread, but not very common. It is mostly found in damp, shady areas. Fungi belong to their own kingdom and get their nutrients and energy from organic matter, rather than photosynthesis like plants. It is often just the fruiting bodies, or 'mushrooms', that are visible to us, arising from an unseen network of tiny filaments called 'hyphae'. These fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation.
How to identifyThe scarlet elfcup has rounded, regular-shaped fruiting bodies that look like cups; they have a bright scarlet and smooth inner surface. The outer surface is pale pink and covered in tiny hairs. The cup has a very short stem.
In our area
Common in Shropshire, you are particularly likely to see them in our woodland nature reserves.