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Orange Mycena


Orange Mycena, Mycena leaiana, a brilliant orange mushroom, resembling in color the much larger Jack O'Lantern mushroom. I found these at Ferne Clyffe State Park. The weather has been unusually dry for May, and especially hot, so few mushrooms are out, and even some of these (as you can see in the last photo) are stressed from the heat.

Like all Mycenas, these are fairly small. The longest stem among these was 5 cm. The caps were around 2 cm. They're a little sticky and quite bright when fresh but dry out and fade over time. In the first photo, the ones in the foreground are fresher than those in the back. Other than color, another key feature is the marginate gills, which means the edges of the gills are a different color from the sides. In fact, the spore print is white. A good tip for the new mushroom hunter: never make an assumption about spore-print color. 

Another lesson taught by Mycenas is discussed by David Arora in Mushrooms Demystified where he contrasts the hunters who range widely looking for the large edible mushrooms and those "one or two keen-eyed individuals . . .  content to remain where they are, meticulously examining every leaf, twig, and cone. . . . I harbor a profound respect for these exceptional individuals. In a society where we are taught from birth to think big, it is encouraging to find some who are still able to make the distinction between quality and quantity, who appreciate the fact that size alone is not a measure of intrinsic worth" (p. 224). This is a lesson always wholesome to relearn. You don't need to drive to the Grand Canyon to see the wonders of nature. You need only to slow down and pay close attention where you are at this present moment. The miracle of the universe is right here, right now, waiting for you.