Jelly Bellies: Leotia lubrica
Cap 1-2.5 cm broad, convex to hemispheric, occasionally lobed, or convoluted; margin inrolled, often wavy; surface more or less smooth, viscid when moist; color: buff, yellowish, to ochraceous, sometimes tinged greenish; flesh thin, gelatinous.
Stipe 2.5-5.0 cm long, 0.5-1.0 cm thick, hollow or with a gelatinous center, tapering upward to a slightly narrowed apex; surface sparsely covered with fine scales, colored like the cap or brighter.
Spores 16-26 x 4.5-6 µm, subfusiform, the ends rounded, slightly curved in profile, 5-8 septate, hyaline, white in deposit.
Solitary, scattered, to clustered in bare soil or humus in mixed hardwood/conifer woods; fruiting from late winter to spring.
Unsubstantial, gelatinous; not worth trying.
At first glance this diminutive yellowish mushroom looks like it could be a gilled Basidiomycete, but an examination of the fertile layer, which is on the upper, not lower surface, reveals asci and ascospores. The common name "Jelly Bellies," refers of course to the gelatinous nature of this fungus. Beside texture, Leotia lubrica is characterized by a yellowish, viscid (when moist) cap with an inrolled margin. The stipe is concolorous with the cap but usually brighter, and is finely scaled. Closely related and more abundant in our area is Leotia viscosa, which has an olive to dark-green cap and a yellowish to buff-colored stipe.