New Species of Mushroom Discovered on UC Berkeley Campus

Posted on December 7, 2014

Helvella dryophila

Researchers have discovered a new species of mushroom on the campus of University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). The mushroom is described as having a black "elfin saddle."

UC Berkeley says in the announcement that the mushroom is the first species discovered on campus in over 30 years. The new species is named Helvella dryophila. It was found by Else Vellinga and Nhu Nguyen on Observatory Hill, which is located next to the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. The researchers say the mushroom is edible but is not very tasty. They warn it could potentially be poisonous if not cooked properly

Nguyen said in a statement, "So far only 11 other species have been described from campus. The last time this happened was in 1985."

Nguyen also says, "Many mushroom species in California, and across North America, are mistakenly known by European names, but with the advent of DNA sequencing and more precise identification, it was discovered that our native mushrooms are entirely different. Once we figured out that the California elfin saddles were completely different from the European elfin saddles, we focused on the group and described two new species from California."

A research paper about the new species was published here in Mycologia. The paper also described a second newly discovered species, Helvella vespertina, which is found in Salt Point State Park.

Photo: UC Berkeley