Observation 7843: Mitrula elegans Berk.

When: 2008-05-23

Collection location: Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Princeton, Massachusetts, USA [Click for map]

Who: Brian Seitzman

Specimen available

On Quercus & Tsuga detritus in muddy area near beaver dam


Proposed Names

95% (4)
Recognized by sight: Very distinctive fungus. Between the morphology, growth habit and habitat, it’s hard to mistake for anything else.

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= Observer’s choice
= Current consensus


Add Comment
I concede the point.
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2008-07-06 07:45:52 PDT (-0700)

Your photo certainly looks just like what we call elegans out here in the West.
I will just smile and nod right along with you, until someone else comes up with a better argument for it being some other Mitrula species.

The Authors of That Paper
By: Brian Seitzman
2008-07-05 06:24:03 PDT (-0700)


Small world! I’m in the Hibbett lab myself. Wang went on to a postdoc in Iowa a few weeks before I arrived, but David Hibbett is my adviser and Manfred Binder was actually the person who identified my specimens as M. elegans. David has also referred to the same fungi as M. elegans on the occasions that we’ve seen it in the field. One of the other members of my lab, studying nitrogen transporter genes, has also cultured from the specimens I collected.

David and Manfred are both more familiar with Basidiomycota than Ascomycota (as am I, for that matter), but if two of the three authors of that paper think it’s M. elegans and one of them is my adviser, I’m certainly going to nod and smile. :)

More likely Mitrula paludosa; for species, go to the scope (or maybe DNA analysis…)
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2008-06-12 08:37:10 PDT (-0700)

Probably NOT elegans (a Western species); paludosa from Europe (altho some have called the Eastern sp. by this name); also could be borealis or lunulatospora…an eastern springtime sp. with crescent-shaped spores.

There is also some debate over the adequacy of spore measurement re: species designations, and a vote for declaring all of the various Swamp Beacons to be merely paludosa. Some pertinant text here, from Zhen Wang, published in 2005 in the American Journal of Botany:

“Fifty-five species names have been recorded under the genus Mitrula (http://www.indexfungorum.org). Some species described in Mitrula have been transferred to other genera, such as Bryoglossum, Scleromitrula (= Verpatinia), and Heyderia (Imai, 1941 ; Maas Geesteranus, 1964 ; Dennis, 1968 ; Korf, 1973 ; Redhead, 1977 ; Schumacher and Holst-Jensen, 1997 ). Morphological characters used for defining Mitrula species are limited and include characters of asci, ascospores, and apothecia. Noting that the measurements of asci and spores by different authors were not consistent, Imai (1941) , Maas Geesteranus (1964) , and Korf (1973) suggested that Mitrula is a monotypic genus, with M. paludosa as the sole species.

The present concept of Mitrula (Redhead, 1977 ) includes four species that are united by possession of orange, clavate, fleshy apothecia, a white stipe, inflated stipe hyphae, hyaline ascospores, an amyloid apical ascal tip, and an aquatic habitat. In Redhead (1977) , characters of spores and apothecia, and geographic distributions were used to distinguish species. Four species were recognized, M. elegans, M. borealis S.A. Redhead, M. lunulatospora S.A. Redhead, and one European species M. paludosa, which may be referred to Asian material as well (Redhead, 1977 ). Mitrula borealis has a boreal and subalpine distribution in North America and Europe, while the other three species are believed to be restricted to shallow water at a low altitude. In addition to M. borealis and M. paludosa, two Mitrula species with dark brown or pink hymenophores, M. multiforme (E. Henning) Massee and M. omphalostoma E.-H. Benedix, were accepted in Europe by Benkert (1983) . The genus Bryoglossum was erected based on the bryophilous (moss-inhabiting) species Mitrula gracilis Karsten. Bryoglossum gracilis (Karsten) S.A. Redhead may be closely related to Mitrula species, but shows some significant differences from the four Mitrula species in producing minute cauloscales (scale-like stipe hairs), having a gelatinized free margin, a yellowish stipe with narrow stipe hyphae, and releasing a yellow to reddish brown pigment in 10% KOH solution (Kankainen, 1969 ; Redhead, 1977 )."

Full article here: http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/92/9/1565

So much for slam dunk ID! These darn mushrooms sure keep us humble…

M. paludosa vs elegans
By: Irene Andersson (irenea)
2008-06-11 23:02:09 PDT (-0700)

In Scandinavia we’d call it Mitrula paludosa without hesitation – and I wonder if it’s motivated to keep paludosa and elegans as two different species.
It has been shown that some of the collections of M. elegans in USA are closer related to our M. paludosa than to other collections of M. elegans in USA (western).