If you keep your ear to the ground you never know what you might see on your next walk in the woods. The Brown Clustered Ear Cup (Otidea alutacea) looks like delicate ears poking up through the moss. In actuality, it is a cup fungi.
We found a group of these cup fungi growing in the moss in association with Douglas Firs at Miracle Beach Provincial Park. The contorted shape of the fruiting body is one of the features that can be used to identify this mushroom but there are several species that are very similar. We’re reasonably confident that this is O. alutacea due to the brownish colour, the shape of the fungus, habitat, and the fact that there were a group of them. Arora states that the edibility of this ear cup is unknown and that it is “better chucked than plucked.”
Look for these, and other distinctive looking fungi, the next time you’re out for a walk in the Pacific Northwest.