Cyathus stercoreus

Common Names: Dung-loving bird's nest, splash cups
Category: Fungi
Sub-category: Birds nest

This tiny fungi resembles tiny bird's nests filled with eggs. The fruiting bodies are referred to as splash cups, because they are designed to use the force of falling drops of water to dislodge and disperse their spores. The fruiting bodies are funnel or barrel-shaped, 6 to 15 mm tall, 4 to 8 mm wide at the mouth, sometimes short-stalked, golden brown to blackish brown in age. The outside wall of the peridium, the ectoperidium, is covered with tufts of fungal hyphae that resembles shaggy, untidy hair. However, in older specimens this outer layer of hair (technically a tomentum) may be completely worn off. The internal wall of the cup, the endoperidium, is smooth and grey to bluish-black. The 'eggs' of the bird's nest - the peridioles - are blackish, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, and there are typically about 20 in the cup. Peridioles are often attached to the fruiting body by a funiculus, a structure of hyphae that is differentiated into three regions: the basal piece, which attaches it to the inner wall of the peridium, the middle piece, and an upper sheath, called the purse, connected to the lower surface of the peridiole. In the purse and middle piece is a coiled thread of interwoven hyphae called the funicular cord, attached at one end to the peridiole and at the other end to an entangled mass of hyphae called the hapteron. However, Brodie reports that sometimes C. stercoreus is found without a funiculus, which has led some authors to misidentify this species with the genus Nidula.

Prefers growing on dung, or soil/mulch containing dung. Often found in landscaped areas that use manure fertilizer.

Edible Notes: Not edible.
Warnings: Grows on dung, which may have bacteria and other dangers.