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Mitrula Elegans

Mitrula Elegans, Vancouver Island, BC
Mitrula Elegans, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Mitrula Elegans or as it is commonly called, the swamp beacon, is a small but conspicuous inhabitant of moist, boggy areas on the island’s forests. Fleshy fungi are saprobic organisms and are responsible for decomposing a massive amount of wood and leaf litter in forest ecosystems.  Swamp beacons belong to a group of mushrooms known as earth tongues. This itself is a bit of a gruesome moniker, further increased by the slightly sinister visual of the luminous golden yellow fungus lighting the way through a dark swamp or bog. Find this miniature beacon growing on decaying leaves in wetlands in spring and summer.

They grow in marshy and wet areas either solitary or in small groups and are often found growing in shallow standing water. You can look for them in the late spring or early summer, look for that yellow elogated cap, with a stem that is translucent white. they can reach up to 5 cm tall, swamp beacons feed on dead and decaying plant litter. They play a vital role in driving the carbon cycle.

Swamp Beacons, Vancouver Island, BC
Swamp Beacons, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

I love finding these little clubs growing in our island forests, if you look close at night you can see that they do glow. These mushrooms are not edible.

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