It’s easy to see how the Scutellinia fungi got their common name of Eyelash fungi – the long dark hairs that grow around their rims would be any girl’s dream – and some of their other vernacular names are delightful: Eyelash cup, Eyelash pixie cup and, my favourite, Molly eye-winker.
The fungi in my photos may be Scutellinia scutellata, the Common Eyelash fungi, but, as there are around 50 species of cup-shaped eyelash-fluttering fungi (Scutellinia and Cheilymenia) and they’re all rather tiny (usually no more than 3 to 5 mm across), you need a microscope to tell them apart.
Though very common in Britain, Europe and North America, and also found in much of South America, Australasia and Asia, the Eyelash fungi are easily overlooked because of their small size, and because they’re often obscured by their mossy surroundings. They have a preference for moist places where there’s plenty of rotten timber to eat, so next time you walk through a soggy woodland, kept a look out for these little dots of orangey-red. They’re around from late spring to late autumn.