This small and attractive fungus is one of the ‘Discos’ (Disc fungi), an English description for one the groups in the genus of Pyronema (Pyronemataceae family) – but let’s not get too technical, we could be here forever!
Although widespread and common throughout the UK, I very rarely see the Common Eyelash (Scutellinia scutellata) on my travels but then again they can be extremely hard to spot, even with their bright colouring. I discovered these whilst kneeling down examining another fungus. Luckily they were in my line of sight.
They are often found in groups clustered together on rotting wood or soil, most of the time in damp places and sometimes lost amongst moss. They measure around 0.2 – 1cm across, so finding a solitary individual would be very hard indeed.
Apart from the bright orange/red colour and mini disc/shallow cup shape – the main distinctive feature are the tiny fine dark brown/black hairs (up to 20mm in length) on the margin. They look like tiny ‘eyelashes’ all around the edge, hence the English name. Depending on how good your eyesight is, these are just visible with the naked eye and look quite menacing through a lens. Fortunately these fine hairs are not sharp and cannot penetrate the skin.
Many cup shaped fungi have similar growing hairs around their edge and they differ in length and colour etc. Similar species to the Common Eyelash include Scutellinia umbrorum / S. olivascens which share the same colours and environment, but are larger in size (up to 2cm across) and with shorter, less conspicuous hairs.
Their season is late spring to late autumn, so keep a keen eye out and you could get lucky.