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Species of the month

Every month it is our aim to highlight a species that is “in-season” and, although not necessarily rare or difficult to identify, has been highlighted by our local recording groups as being somewhat under-recorded and for which new records would therefore be welcomed.

If you or your recording group are aware of species such as this then please contact Bob Foreman.


March: Sarcoscypha austriaca

Scarlet Elfcap

Scarlet Elfcap, Monkmead Wood, West Sussex (26 February 2017) Photo: Mark Colvin

Sarcoscypha austriaca

Photo-microscopy images of Sarcoscypha austriaca ascospores

Habitat and distribution
Sarcoscypha austriaca or Scarlet Elfcup is a widespread species that likes damp woodland with Salix and Alnus and is often found on moss-covered logs of these species near standing water. Unlike many of the other larger more colourful fungi, this species starts to appear at the beginning of the year and tends to reach full maturity in late February to March.

Similar species
There are several very similar species in the genus which can only be separated with microscopy:

Without microscopy, Sarcoscypha collections should be submitted as Sarcoscypha sp. or Sarcoscypha cf. austriaca. Fresh collections for species determination are welcomed and can be sent to:

N. Aplin
21 Shetland Close
Pound Hill
West Sussex
RH10 7YZ



February: Brown Hairstreak

Brown Hairstreak egg

Brown Hairstreak egg photographed at Woods Mill in January 2018

Now is the perfect time to search Blackthorn hedges for Brown Hairstreak eggs. We have more records of the eggs of this rare and elusive species in our database than we have for adults. They’re quite easy to spot once you get your eye-in, brilliant white and pin-point size, they look like microscopic sea urchins when seen through a hand lens.

The female butterfly lays her eggs singly in the axil of the thorn and stem on scrubby Blackthorn bushes. They will usually be found no more than 1.5 m above the ground. It would seem that the butterflies are only interested in plants growing on Wealden Clay soils and to a lesser extent the Upper Greensand and Chalk formations. This geological preference limits the eastern extent of its distribution, Plumpton station being its most easterly outpost in Sussex.