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My friend found this is her yard after the rains, she’s seen it before and once it dries there are little “cups” of seeds. Any idea what it is? We are in southern California. enter image description hereenter image description here

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I'm fairly sure this is actually what's commonly known as Bird's Nest fungi - one of the cups in the top right hand corner of the first image still has what look like black 'eggs' sitting inside it. These 'eggs' contain the spores for the fungus, and a drop of rain hitting them means they break open and disperse their spores, often spreading a good distance away. The appearance of these fungi changes rapidly in quite a short space of time; they often appear unnoticed and disappear fairly quickly, and usually show themselves when the weather is wet; there are several different types of bird's nest fungi.

They are harmless, they're only there because of the wood mulch; that's what they're feeding off, as part of nature's disposal system. Further info and image here https://www.gardenbetty.com/splish-splash-birds-nest-fungi/

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This is not a classic seed pod, these are the fruiting body of fungi, which are - fittingly - described as “cup fungi”. They come in many shapes and colors (over 200 species) and a precise id would need more details than currently given in the question.

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