Helvella crispa, commonly known as ‘Fluted White Elfin Saddle’, is a species of false morel possessing an irregularly, saddle shaped, white to creamy buff colored cap on a 3-10 cm long by .8-3 cm wide, deeply ribbed stalk of the same color as the cap. The deeply fluted stalk and white cap are key characteristics in identifying this species. H. crispa is found in large groups or as single specimens on fine ground near paths or rotten wood below hardwoods and conifers in open forests. The distribution is wide and is fairly common. However, more so in the eastern united states than western. A second species in Helvella, H. lactea, also has a white to cream or buff colored cap and ribbed stalk, but is distinguished by the lack of hair on the underside of the cap.
This picture was taken in a coniferous forest near Burnt Woods, approximately 25 miles west Philomath, OR on HWY 20. H. crispa is not generally regarded as edible though some sources will claim edibility. The guide books I trust most recommend not trying to eat it.
Historically, indigenous North Americans used several parts of the plant to treat diarrhea, dizziness, aching joints and venereal disease.
Arora, D. (1986) Mushrooms Demystified. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.
Lincoff, G. (Ed.) (1981) Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Mushrooms. Simon & Schuster Inc, New York, New York.