What You Should Know
Clavulinopsis laeticolor is a coral mushroom in the family Clavariaceae. It has fruit bodies with slender, bright orange to yellow arms up to 5 cm (2 in) tall and 3 mm wide. It fruits singly or in loose groups on the ground, often among mosses. A widely distributed species, it is found in Asia, Europe, North America, and New Zealand.
Clavulinopsis laeticolor tends to grow singly, or in sparse loose clusters in mid to late winter. Despite its bright color, its tiny size means it doesn’t hold much presence amid the drab browns and greens of the forest floor. This is a helpful distinguishing feature, as its similar appearing cousin, Clavulinopsis fusiformis, does grow in tight dense clusters, standing out more readily amidst its less vibrant neighbors.
Other names: Handsome Club, Golden Fairy-Club.
Clavulinopsis laeticolor Mushroom Identification
Presumably saprobic; growing alone, scattered, gregariously, or in loose groups under hardwoods or conifers; usually terrestrial but occasionally appearing on well-rotted, moss-covered stumps; summer and fall (also winter in warmer climates); originally described from Cuba; widely distributed in North America; also documented from Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
17–50 mm high; 1–4 mm wide; cylindrical and unbranched; sometimes somewhat flattened, or with a groove or a twist; dry; bald; bright orange or yellow; fading with age; whitish at the extreme base; at maturity often with a somewhat pointed tip that ages or discolors somewhat reddish or orange.
Whitish to pale yellow or orange; thin.
Odor and Taste
Iron salts negative to grayish on surfaces; KOH orangish.
Spores 5–7 x 3.5–5 µ; irregularly subellipsoid to subamygdaliform, with a large protruding apiculus; smooth; hyaline and often uniguttulate in KOH; inamyloid. Basidia 35–55 x 5–8 µm; subclavate; 4-sterigmate. Cystidia not found. Contextual hyphae 3–5 µm wide; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline to golden in KOH; with small clamp connections.
Clavulinopsis laeticolor Look-Alikes
Forms dense tufts of clubs that are literally compressed and sometimes forked.
The latter is typically yellow while C. laeticolor is usually some shade of orange. Both species can fruit in tufts, but clusters of Clavulinopsis fusiformis spores are spherical, while those of C. laeticolor are subglobose to pyriforme.
May occur in the Pacific Northwest (collection at Oregon State University), has a bright yellow to orange-yellow fruit bodies and angular-warty spores.
Averages broader and has spores borne on asci rather than basidia (Arora).
Clavulinopsis laeticolor Taxonomy and Etymology
This fairy club fungus was described in 1799 by English botanist Miles Joseph Berkeley and New Zealander Moses Ashley Curtis (1808 - 1872), who gave it the binomial scientific name Clavaria laeticolor. It was not until 1965 that the currently accepted scientific name Clavulinopsis laeticolor arose, when American mycologist Ronald H Petersen (born 1934) transferred this species to the genus Clavulinopsis.
Synonyms of Clavulinopsis laeticolor include Clavaria laeticolor Berk. & M.A. Curtis, Clavaria pulchra Peck, Clavaria persimilis Cotton, Clavulinopsis pulchra (Peck) Corner, and Clavulinopsis laeticolor f. bulbispora R.H. Petersen.
The origin of the generic name is the Latin noun clava meaning a club, with the suffix implying that it looks quite similar to species in the genus Clavulina. The Clavulinopsis genus is closely related to Clavulina and Clavaria, but fungi in the Clavulinopsis group have tougher, less brittle fruitbodies that are solid rather than hollow in structure. The most obvious microscopic difference is that Clavulinopsis species have clamp connections in the tramal tissues.
The specific epithet laeticolor also comes from Latin and means 'of a joyous color' - in other words, pretty, I guess. That may not be the most descriptive of adjectives, but a photogenic group of these fair clubs certainly is a joy to behold.
Photo 1 - Author: Eric (Eric Brunschwiler) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: zaca (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)