Mitrula paludosa can grow up to 5cm tall and has a yellow or orangey swollen ‘head’ area held aloft on a white or translucent stem. The yellow head is the fertile section and as this is one of the Ascomycetes (spore shooters) this fruit body should be particularly efficient at distributing its spores – the fertile part held up into the air currents and the spores shot out.
Mitrula paludosa is a saprotrophic or ‘recycler’ fungus, which is breaking down dead plant litter. They play a vital role in driving the carbon cycle, releasing nutrients that they don’t require back into the habitat.
Fruiting: in Scotland, Mitrula paludosa starts to appear in March, peaks in May and June and seems to have disappeared by the middle of September.
Habitat: found on the dead remains of higher plants, mosses and algae, this species is usually found in areas of seeping water. Thus ditches, slow moving streams, sphagnum patches and loch sides can all be productive places to search.
Distribution: Dennis (British Ascomycetes 1981) describes this species as common in suitable situations but the distribution on the NBN is certainly scattered.
The total number of records for this species on the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland is 647 with 200 of those originating in Scotland.
Liz Holden May 2011