E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Mycena alcalina (Fr.) Quel. sensu A.H. Sm.
alkaline Mycena

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #18785)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Mycena alcalina
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Species Information

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.
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)
thin, fragile, (Arora), thin or moderately thick under disc, fragile but cartilaginous; white or grayish, (Smith), thin, more or less cap-colored, (Maas Geesteranus)
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)
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)
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)
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

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Mycena stipata Maas Geest. & Schwoebel ?

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


unknown (Arora)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Smith(1) (as M. alcalina), Arora ( M. alcalina), Maas Geesteranus(1) (for Mycena stipata), Miller(14)* (for Mycena stipata "also known as" M. alcalina), Breitenbach(3)* (for Mycena stipata), Trudell(4)* (as Mycena stipata)

References for the fungi

General References