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Summary: Section Typicae (Smith), Section Fragilipedes (Maas Geesteranus for M. stipata). Mycena 'alcalina' is here taken to represent the common dark brownish to dark grayish, alkaline-smelling sp. (or spp.) that grows on conifer logs or humus under conifers and is distinct from Mycena leptocephala. Maas Geesteranus writes of Mycena stipata for which Mycena alcalina Kuehner has been a misapplied name in Europe, 'Whether this species occurs in North America has not been verified. Smith (1947: 317) stated that "This [M. alcalina] is perhaps the commonest species in the genus in North America, but at the same time it is one of the most puzzling...". Considering that several of both the macroscopic and microscopic features described are alien to true M. stipata, Smith's description must be viewed with reservation'. The description of Maas Geesteranus for true Mycena stipata is given here as well as those of Smith and Arora for Mycena 'alcalina'. According to Maas Geesteranus, the original Agaricus alcalinus concept has been abandoned, so that the name 'alcalina' would no longer be valid. According to Maas Geesteranus, Mycena vexans (Peck) Saccardo from New York State, given by Smith as a synonym for his species, does not fit the Fries concept, or the concept of Mycena alcalina sensu Kuehner from Europe (included by Maas Geesteranus as misapplied name under Mycena stipata). Regardless of the name, the species complex is common. It was found at least in WA, OR, and also MB, NS, ON, AL, CA, CO, MI, MT, NY, PA, and TN, (Smith). It frequent on foray lists from BC as Mycena alcalina.
Cap: 1-4cm across, conic to bell-shaped or convex-umbonate, expanding somewhat when old; dark brownish black to grayish black when very young, soon fading to gray, grayish brown, or yellow brown; smooth, striate when moist, (Arora), (0.5)1-3(4)cm across, (0.5)1-3cm high, obtusely conic, the margin usually somewhat flared at maturity, sometimes convex or with broad obtuse umbo, small forms often conic-campanulate or papillate; subhygrophanous [somewhat hygrophanous], blackish at first, becoming very sordid yellowish brown or drab gray when old, the margin frequently whitish or pallid; at first a with a conspicuous bloom, giving a bluish gray cast or glaucous sheen, soon becoming polished and then lubricous, obscurely striate when young, striate to disc at maturity, the margin sometimes slightly sulcate [grooved], (Smith), up to 3cm across, at first narrowly conic or parabolic, then bell-shaped; hygrophanous, at first blackish brown, dark sepia brown, becoming paler, turning brownish beige, argillaceous, dingy honey color, yellowish gray, grayish, with pallid margin; more or less markedly lubricous when wet, delicately pruinose, becoming bald, more or less sulcate, translucent-striate, (Maas Geesteranus)
Flesh: thin, fragile, (Arora), thin or moderately thick under disc, fragile but cartilaginous; white or grayish, (Smith), thin, more or less cap-colored, (Maas Geesteranus)
Gills: adnate to slightly decurrent, rather close; white to grayish, sometimes stained reddish brown when old, (Arora), adnate or with a slight decurrent tooth, close to subdistant (20-27 reaching stem), narrow to moderately broad, 0.2-0.35cm, sometimes interveined; pure white or grayish at first, remaining white or becoming cinereous [ashy-gray], sometimes spotted with sordid reddish brown stains when old, edges colored as faces or remaining white, (Smith), adnate, decurrent with a short tooth, ascending, 14-19 reaching stem, up to 0.2cm broad, somewhat ventricose [broader in the middle]; at first whitish, then gray, the edges whitish to pallid; smooth, finally veined and dorsally interveined, (Maas Geesteranus)
Stem: 3-10cm x 0.15-0.3cm, equal, fragile, hollow; pallid to grayish or sordid yellowish brown when old, (Arora), (1.5)4-9(11)cm x (0.1)0.15-0.25(0.4)cm, tubular to hollow, often compressed in large specimens, cartilaginous and brittle; colored as cap or paler especially at top, often sordid yellowish brown when old, with a bluish bloom at first; not viscid, soon polished and lubricous, "base sparsely white-mycelioid to strigose", (Smith), 4-7cm x 0.1-0.2cm, equal for the greater part, round in cross-section, curved in lower part, hollow, fragile; more or less colored as cap, paler in upper part, pale yellowish gray or somewhat more ochraceous; somewhat lubricous when wet, pruinose in upper part, bald further below, "the base densely covered with long, coarse, whitish fibrils", (Maas Geesteranus)
Odor: faintly to strongly alkaline (like bleach), (Arora), strongly alkaline, sometimes lacking, (Smith), nitrous, also stated to be alkaline or even of chlorine, more pronounced when cut, (Maas Geesteranus)
Taste: acidulous but hardly distinctive (Smith), mildly acrid (Miller)
Microscopic spores: spores 8-11 x 4.5-7 microns, elliptic, smooth, amyloid, (Arora), spores (7.5)8-10(11) x 4.5-6(7) microns, elliptic to broadly elliptic, smooth, distinctly amyloid; basidia usually 4-spored, 2-spored forms occasionally abundant; pleurocystidia numerous, scattered or rare, sometimes apparently absent, (35)40-60 x 8-15(20) microns, fusoid-ventricose to subcylindric, the apices sometimes forked, colorless, smooth, cheilocystidia abundant, 28-40 x 9-20 microns, colorless, "subclavate with abruptly narrowed apex, broadly fusoid-ventricose" or sometimes the apex obtuse and with two or more obtuse finger-like projections, "sometimes the apex forked or branched"; gill trama "pale yellow or sometimes vinaceous red in iodine"; cap trama "with a rather thick pellicle and a well-differentiated hypoderm, the remainder filamentous, yellowish or slightly vinaceous brown in iodine", (Smith), spores 9.2-11.6 x 5.4-6.3 microns, pip-shaped or at times somewhat elongated, smooth, amyloid; basidia 4-spored, 25-30 x 8-9 microns, clavate, clamped; pleurocystidia absent or perhaps very rare, cheilocystidia 35-60 x 6-18 x 0-8 microns, forming a sterile band, fusiform, subcylindric, conic, lageniform or, not infrequently, clavate, clamped, apically passing into a shorter or longer, simple neck, occasionally into a forked neck, or simply broadly rounded, (Maas Geesteranus)
Spore deposit: white (Arora)
Habitat / Range
in groups or tufts "on decaying conifer logs, or sometimes densely gregarious on needles under conifers", (Arora), gregarious to subcespitose [more or less in tufts], on decaying wood of conifers and densely gregarious on humus under conifers, particularly larch, (Smith), cespitose [in tufts] on conifer wood (Pinus, Picea, possibly also Abies), (Maas Geesteranus for Europe), spring, summer, fall, winter
Smith's concept of Mycena alcalina should be compared with Smith's concept of Mycena leptocephala: both are described as having an alkaline odor (which is close to nitrous). Smith does not provide an easy way of distinguishing them. They diverge in the key on the basis of the shape of the pleurocystidia ("present and usually very prominent" for M. alcalina, "if present, not with greatly elongated necks" for M. leptocephala), but they may be absent in either species. For M. alcalina they are "fusoid-ventricose to subcylindric, the apices sometimes forked, hyaline, smooth, (35) 40-60 x 8-15 (20) um", and for M. leptocephala they are "30-44 x 9-13 um, variable in shape, fusoid-ventricose to clavate, the apex forked in some, the clavate individuals occasionally bearing two or three fingerlike prolongations". Rod-like projections from the cells of the cap cuticle are mentioned for M. leptocephala, but are not specified for M. alcalina. The habitat is given as "Gregarious to subcespitose on decaying wood of conifers and densely gregarious on humus under conifers, particularly larch" for M. alcalina and "on fallen sticks and on needle carpets under conifers" for M. leptocephala. Note that the concepts for Mycena leptocephala are not exactly the same for Smith and Maas Geesteranus. Mycena stipata is like M. leptocephala of Europe in having a nitrous odor but M. leptocephala differs from M. stipata by smaller cap, non-clustered growth, and swollen end cells in the cortical layer of the stem apex, (from descriptions of Maas Geesteranus). Turning to other species, Mycena maculata is like Smith's Mycena 'alcalina' in having reddish markings especially on gills, but M. maculata more gregarious than in tufts, with base often rooted. M. galericulata is somewhat similar to Mycena stipata and Mycena 'alcalina' but is often larger with pinkish-tinted gills, and lacks the alkaline odor.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2020-07-11 11:37:27 AM
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