Fertile head up to 1.0 cm long, and 0.5 cm broad, variable in shape: cylindrical to oblong-elliptical, subglobose to obovate; surface glistening when moist, faintly wrinkled to furrowed, golden-yellow, the margin fused to the stipe, the latter comprising the one-half to two-thirds of the fruiting body; stipe often with a basal bend, 0.5-1.3 cm long, 1.0-1.5 mm thick, more or less equal, hollow at maturity, glabrous except pubescent at the base; color whitish, translucent, sometimes tinged pale-pink.
Spores 11.5-16.0 x 2.5-3.5 µm, hyaline, narrowly oblong-elliptical (appearing cucumber-shaped), smooth, thin-walled; spores whitish in deposit.
Solitary, scattered, to gregarious in marshes and bogs; fruiting on the remains of conifer needles, cones, aquatic plants, frequently in standing water; known primarily from montane areas; fruiting from late spring to summer; rare except in its favored habitat.
The name "Match-stick Fungus," aptly describes this diminutive Ascomycete with a yellow-orange cap and slender, translucent stipe. Its fruiting preference, along the edges of marshes, and brightly-colored cap are distinctive, and differentiates it from other western Mitrulas. Mitrula paludosa of Europe is very similar, but probably does not occur in the United States According to Redhead (1977), it is distinguished by slightly wider spores. Ascomycetes often found fruiting with Mitrula elegans include Sclerotinia veratri, Cudoniella clavus, and various Mollisia species.