FRUIT BODY 2–10 cm tall. HEAD 0.5–3 cm long, 0.3–1 cm across, cylindrical to rounded; rarely brain-like, ear-shaped or lobed. Surface moist to dry, smooth to wrinkled. Bright orange to yellow-orange; occasionally ochraceous orange to pinkish orange. STIPE 2–9 cm long, 0.1–0.3 cm thick, enlarged towards base, surface moist to lubricous, smooth; base with matted hairs. Translucent white, pinkish white, or pale grayish white. FLESH thin, watery, concolorous. MICROSCOPY: Spores 11–17.5 × 1.5–3 μm, narrowly cylindrical, oblong ellipsoid to clavate, smooth, hyaline, one or two-celled, lacking a gelatinous sheath. Asci 115–123 x 5–7.5 μm, elongate-clavate, 8-spored, apical pores amyloid. Paraphy- ses 120–130 x 1.5–3 μm, thread-like, slightly enlarged on upper portions.
ECOLOGY: Saprobic. Scattered or in small clusters on grasses, sedges, pine needles or other small debris in standing water in marshes, bogs and other water-satu- rated areas. Fruiting in spring and early summer.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Vibrissea truncorum grows on woody debris in water (often running streams), but the fruit bodies are smaller, and have rounded heads and short whitish to gray stipes. Fruit bodies of Heyderia abietis are smaller, and have ochre-buff heads and brownish stipes; they emerge directly from conifer needles, especially those of true firs (Abies spp.) in fall. Spathularia flavida is paler, has a flattened paddle-like or fan-like head, and fruits from conifer duff in the fall. Neolecta vitellina fruit bodies have brighter yellow, often irregularly shaped heads transitioning gradually into whitish stipes, and they grow in moss or conifer duff in fall or winter.