Black Trumpet (Horn of Plenty; Black Chanterelle; Trumpet of the Dead)

Family: 
Cantharellaceae
Description: 

Dark brown to black, vase- or trumpet-shaped, with a wavy margin; no gills. Grows in groups of few to many on rocky, mossy hillsides in deciduous woods. June–September. Fruiting body funnel-shaped, hollow, often with wavy margin; upper surface dark brown to black; underside brown to gray when immature, turning salmony when mature; texture upper surface dry, sometimes smooth but more often rough and scaly, underside smooth to slightly veined. Spore print ocher-buff to ocher-orange. Spores magnified are elliptical, smooth, colorless.

There are no lookalikes in Missouri.

Size: 
Fruiting body width: 1⁄8–3½ inches; height: 1–5½ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Grows in groups of few to many on rocky, mossy hillsides in deciduous woods. The black trumpet can be hard to see, because these mushrooms are small and their color blends in nicely with the forest floor. However, when you see one, there will be more. Make know of where you find them; they can reappear in the same spot for years.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide.
Status: 
A choice edible. The black trumpet is highly fragrant, and the flavor intensifies when dried, when it can be ground and used as a seasoning. It is delicious with eggs and beautiful as a garnish for squash soup.
Life cycle: 
Mushrooms exist most of the time underground or within rotting logs as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree roots, rotting material, and/or the soil. This species is probably a saprobe, meaning that it digests rotting material. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the mushroom, which is the reproductive structure. Mushrooms produce spores, which are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.
Human connections: 
Humans have eaten mushrooms for thousands of years. Black trumpets are especially prized for their culinary value and are favorites of mushroom hunters. Mushroom hunting is an exciting, fun, and rewarding hobby.
Ecosystem connections: 
This is one of the many fungus species that live on decaying organic materials. It and other such saprobic fungi play an incredibly important role in breaking down the tough materials living things are made of and returning those nutrients to the soil.