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Mycena leptocephala

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Tricholomataceae > Mycena . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Gray to brown Mycena species are not the easiest mushrooms to identify, but Mycena leptocephala has several distinguishing features, including a strong bleach-like odor; terrestrial, gregarious habitat under conifers; and, under a microscope, spindle-shaped cheilocystidia that are not adorned with abundant rod-like projections. Mycena alcalina is very similar, even in microscopic features, but it grows in clusters on conifer stumps and logs, and tends to be a little stockier.

Many small mushrooms have distinctive odors, best detected by crushing one of the caps between your finger and thumb, then taking a whiff. Aside from the smell of bleach, other distinctive odors include a mealy smell (reminiscent of watermelon rind or cucumbers), an odor of radishes, and an odor of garlic or onions. Often a distinctive odor is strong enough that a subsequent taste test is not needed. However, people's noses work differently and I, for example, have trouble detecting "radish-like" as an odor, though the taste registers clear as a bell with my taste buds.


Ecology: Saprobic on the debris of conifers; growing scattered to gregariously on the ground; spring and fall (or over winter in warmer climates); widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 1-4 cm; conical when young, becoming broadly conical, convex, or broadly bell-shaped; moist; with a whitish bloom when young, but soon bald; black or dark grayish brown when young, fading somewhat to grayish brown or gray with age; the margin faintly lined at first, later becoming more strongly lined.

Gills: Attached to the stem by a tooth; nearly distant; whitish or pale grayish.

Stem: 3-7 cm long; 1-3 mm thick; fragile; equal; hollow; with a whitish bloom at first, but soon bald; black to dark brown at first, becoming grayish or brownish; basal mycelium whitish.

Flesh: Insubstantial; pallid or grayish.

Odor and Taste: Odor strongly bleachlike; taste acidic and unpleasant.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-10 x 4-6 µ; weakly to moderately amyloid; elliptical; smooth. Basidia usually 4-spored. Cheilocystidia abundant; 30-45 µ long; fusoid-ventricose, subcylindric, or clavate, without digitate projections. Pleurocystidia scattered or sometimes absent; similar to cheilocystidia. Pileipellis a cutis; uppermost elements digitate with short rod-like projections.

REFERENCES: (Persoon, 1800) Gillet, 1876. (Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Smith, 1947; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1991; Hansen & Knudsen, 1992; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 11220401, 04180701.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

Mycena leptocephala

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Kuo, M. (2010, December). Mycena leptocephala. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: