Have You Ever Encountered a Devil’s Urn in Indiana Forests?
This funky fungus is dark in color and has a creepy nickname, but it's not an uncommon sight in Hoosier forests.
Whether it's finding mushrooms in your backyard or that produce you just bought that's already gotten moldy, we encounter fungi all the time. But have you ever thought about how truly fascinating these organisms really are? For instance, according to Britannica, there are more than 140,000 known species of organisms in the kingdom of Fungi. It's also important to note that fungi are not plants as they are eukaryotic organisms.
The Devil's Urn
Have you ever encountered the devil's urn fungus? Well, this is a nickname given to Urnula craterium a fungus that is commonly found on fallen tree limbs in forests throughout the United States.
To be completely honest, I had never heard of a devil's urn before until the Indiana DNR Department of Forestry shared some information about this wild-looking fungi. Not only is it really dark in color, but it also takes on the shape of an "urn" which is how it gets the nickname "devil's urn."
The Missouri Department of Conservation has a great description of this particular fungus, and they also say these are not edible. Not that "devil's urn" sounds particularly appetizing if we're being honest...
Devil's urns are goblet-shaped, leathery, and brown. They grow in clusters on small to medium-sized decaying branches of hardwoods. March–May. Cup closed when immature, then opening to a deep "urn"; inner and outer surfaces are dark brownish black; texture tough and rubbery. Stalk thick, with sides equal; blackish; with a dense covering of hairs. Spore print blackish brown. Spores magnified are elliptical, smooth.
So if you ever encounter this funky fungus in the forest, just know it's a common fungus with a creepy name that you shouldn't eat.
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Gallery Credit: Andrea Vale