Also called trumpet of the dead, this culinary prize is found primarily in moist areas in deciduous woods of North American, Europe and Asia. It occurs in dense colonies from late to summer to fall but is difficult to find because its dark color blends in with the leaf litter in which it grows. The funnel shaped mushroom is l.5 to 4.5 inches tall and l.75 to 4 inches across. The cap is black and has a fringed reflexed margin that becomes lobed with maturity. The spore-bearing surface is smooth to slightly wrinkled, and grayish black, distinctly lighter than the cap. The hollow stem is black and ¼ to ¾ inch in diameter, the spores are white, and the flesh is gray to black.
The horn of plenty is considered very good eating by many and can be found for sale in wild mushroom markets. It is delicious eaten fresh but can also be dried. With a lot of fragrant and a delicate pleasant flavor it is especially prized with fish and chicken, as well as for stews and soups or in cream sauce for pasta and polenta. Because the mushroom is funnel shaped and hollow, the stem needs to be cleaned of debris as well as brushed off before cooking. There are no poisonous mushrooms that resemble the horn of plenty, although there are a few edible tasty look-a-likes.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, John Kirkpatrick, Mushroom Observer