Small, sticky, bell-shaped, orange. Grows in dense clusters on deciduous wood. June–September. Cap egg-shaped, becoming bell-shaped to conical, with sunken center; bright reddish orange, fading to yellowish orange; texture slimy to sticky, shiny, smooth. Gills broad; spacing close to crowded; pinkish yellow, staining orange-yellow when cut, with bright red-orange edges and a light cream inner area; gills attached. Stalk long, with equal sides, sometimes curving; orange-yellow; texture tough, fibrous, sticky, with dense, long, coarse hairs at the base. Spore print white. Spores magnified are elliptical, smooth, colorless.
There are no lookalikes in Missouri.
Cap width: ½–2 inches; stalk length: 1¼–2¾ inches; stalk width: ⅟₁₆–⅛ inch.
Habitat and Conservation
Grows in dense or tight clusters on deciduous wood. Often, several stalks arise from the same point. Although the gills of the orange mycena look orange, a closer look reveals that only the edge of each gill is orange, and the inner portion is light cream-colored. Gills with this color pattern are called "marginate" gills.
This species exists most of the time as a network of fungal cells (mycelium) within rotting logs, branches, or roots. The mycelium obtains nourishment by digesting, and rotting, the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops mushrooms, which are reproductive structures. Spores are produced in the gills and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.
Humans have used various mushrooms for different purposes for thousands of years—as food, traditional medicine, or for their hallucinogenic effects. This humble species has antibiotic and antitumor properties.
This is one of the many fungus species that live on decaying wood. It and other such saprobic fungi play an incredibly important role in breaking down the tough materials wood is made of and returning those nutrients to the soil.
Mushrooms are a lot like plants, but they lack chlorophyll and have to take nutrients from other materials. Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. They are in a different kingdom — the fungi. Fungi include the familiar mushroom-forming species, plus the yeasts, molds, smuts, and rusts.
Always be cautious when eating edible mushrooms. Be absolutely sure of the ID, and only eat a small amount the first time you try it to avoid a reaction..