Violet crown-cup (Sarcosphaera coronaria)

Violet crown-cup fruiting bodies
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Violet crown-cup fact file

Violet crown-cup description

GenusSarcosphaera (1)

The violet crown-cup fungus produces striking, flask-shaped fruiting bodies. These are initially submerged in the soil and then break through the substrate and split open, revealing star-shaped rays (2). The outside of the cup is whitish whilst the inside is a pale violet or brownish colour (2).

WARNING: many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.

Cup diameter: 3 – 20 cm (2)
Cup height: 3 – 15 cm (2)

Violet crown-cup biology

The flask-shaped fruiting bodies of this fungus are often produced in groups; the fruiting period runs from April to June (4).

Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as ‘hyphae’) which are located within the substrate (5). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar mushroom or toadstool) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.


Violet crown-cup range

Found in North America, North Africa and central and southern Europe (4).


Violet crown-cup habitat

Inhabits wooded areas where there are coniferous trees and calcareous soils (4).


Violet crown-cup status

Short-listed for inclusion in the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF), and included on the Red Lists of 14 European countries (3).


Violet crown-cup threats

Violet crown-cup fungus is threatened by activities that disturb its forest habitat, such as clear felling and ground damage, or the acidification of forest soils (4).


Violet crown-cup conservation

The protection of known sites from forestry and air pollution, together with population mapping are suggested as conservation measures (4). The violet crown-cup is a candidate species for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Bern Convention (3) (6).



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Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
Microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction. They comprise a single or group of unspecialised cells and do not contain an embryo, as do seeds.


  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (July 2003)
  2. Jordan, M. (1995) The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe. David and Charles, Newton Abbot.
  3. The distribution, status and habitat requirement of the 33 fungal candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Bern Convention. (June 2003)
  4. European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF) (2001) Datasheets of threatened mushrooms of Europe, candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Convention. Bern Convention Standing Committee.
  5. Pegler, D. & Spooner, B. (1992) The Mushroom Identifier. Apple Press, London.
  6. Bern Convention (June, 2003)

Image credit

Violet crown-cup fruiting bodies  
Violet crown-cup fruiting bodies

© Brian Walker

Brian Walker
North York Moors Forest District
Outgang Road
North Yorkshire
YO18 7EL
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1751 470704


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