Paraphyses and their pigment


The scarlet- to purple-red hymenial colour of the disc is located in the paraphyses. It is caused by a mixture of five different types of carotenoids (Arpin 1969, Baral 1983). This can be demonstrated by thin layer chromatography. No difference in chemical composition among the species of Sarcoscypha examined could be detected. Carotenoids are lipidophilous and occur dissolved in small lipid bodies (LBs) inside the paraphyses.


Carotenoids dissolved in LBs in paraphyses of S. austriaca


 The five different types of carotenoids in the three Central European species obtained by two procedures of thin layer chromatography (IV and V are not recolved).



Sarcoscypha coccinea, red and yellow-orange form. France, Chartres de Bretagne, Salix atrocinerea, 11.II.2004, A. Poncelet & J.P. Priou,  phot. JPP

. Sarcoscypha jurana, red and white form. Belgium, Waulsort, Tilia, 22.I.2000, A. Leclerque, phot. ?

Sarcoscypha jurana, white form, Côte d'Or, Tarsul, 23.XII.2008, P. Roger, phot. A. Gardiennet


Albinism: As an exception, groups of apothecia were discovered with orange, yellow, and even white hymenia. Such albinism can obviously be explained by the absence of one or more of these carotenoids. The phenomenon is thought to be a genetically determined defect, and appears quite rarely to occur. Apothecia with normal and reduced pigment may sometimes grow side by side on the same branch (J.P. Priou, pers. comm., S. coccinea, see photo). On the polders in Netherlands G. & Y. van Duuren showed me completely white apothecia of S. coccinea, and recently discovered also such of S. austriaca. Finds of white apothecia of S. jurana are known Belgium and France (see figs. left). In herbarium specimens the hymenial colour strongly fades with the years, thus making notes from the fresh state necessary. A number of taxa have been described referring to this phenomenon which occurs in all three species from Central Europe (Butterfill & Spooner 1995, Ruini & Ruedl 1998, Leclerque & Fraiture 2001).




Medullary and ectal excipulum, hairs


No difference in the composition of the excipulum is known among the species of the genus. The medullary excipulum forms the very thick “flesh” of the apothecia. It is a loosely interwoven, non-gelatinized textura intricata of narrow hyphae. With its intercellular space it serves as a water storage organ. The ectal excipulum is a compact textura prismatica oriented at a very low angle to the surface. It gives rise to long interwoven hairs forming a white felt on the exterior, especially on the lower flanks and stipe. The curled to corkscrew-like shape of the hairs of S. austriaca was found to provide a valuable character in separating this species from the other species of the genus with more or less straight hairs (Baral 1984, Harrington 1990, Butterfill & Spooner 1995, Pidlich-Aigner 1999: 17).



Median section through apothecium showing medullary excipulum (above), ectal excipulum (centre), and hairs (below)

Sarcoscypha austriaca (Feldberg, Napf, Acer). Hairs flexuous to curled.

Sarcoscypha jurana (Lauterach, Wolfstal, Tilia). Hairs straight to wavy (usually not so curled).

Sarcoscypha coccinea (Karlsruhe, Hambrücken, Ulmus). Hairs +/- straight.


The medullary excipulum stores extracellular water. Grey = intercellular space water-filled, white = air-filled  (S. jurana).

State of complete loss of extracellular water after c. 1 day exposure to a dry atmosphere.