New mushroom discovered on campus — the first since 1985

Mushroom For the first time in 30 years, a new species of mushroom has been discovered on the UC Berkeley campus, to the delight of the researchers who found it.

Else Vellinga and Nhu Nguyen, the researchers, named it Helvella dryophila, and described it as a beautiful black “elfin saddle” associated with oaks. They found it on Observatory Hill, an open space area next to the C.V. Starr East Asian Library.

The mushroom is edible, but doesn’t taste very good and may be poisonous if not cooked properly. The researchers published a paper about their finding in the journal Mycologia.

The find illustrates the importance of maintaining and retaining open space and healthy vegetation on Berkeley’s 1,232-acre urban campus, the researchers said. The discovery also demonstrates the need for a definitive catalog of mushrooms in North America, a longtime goal of Professor Tom Bruns of the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley. Both researchers worked in the Bruns Lab at the time of their discovery.

The full story is posted on the Plant and Microbial Biology website.