Cortinarius mucifluoides Rob. Henry

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Cortinariaceae

Cortinarius mucifluoides - Purple Stocking Webcap, copyright David Kelly

Cortinarius mucifluoides is one several viscid or slimy webcaps that are difficult to separate on macroscopic characters alone; it fruits in mixed woodland or under pines in areas where the soil is acidic. Often these webcaps grow through moss, when the stems can be unusually long.

Distribution

An uncommon species in Britain and Ireland, this webcap is found also in many parts of mainland Europe and in North America.

Cortinarius mucifluoides - Purple Stocking Webcap

Taxonomic history

When the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described a mushroom very similar to this species in 1838, he gave it the binomial name Cortinarius stillatitius. Experts consider this to be a dubious identity and that species identified as matching Fries' description of C. stillatitius are more likely to be Cortinarius mucifluoides (synonym Cortinarius pseudosalar) or perhaps Cortinarius integerrimus.

Cortinarius mucifluoides was described and named by French mycologist Robert Henry in 1985, and is synonymous with Cortinarius pseudosalor sensu auct. brit., Cooke, Rea.

Cortinarius mucifluoides, New Forest

Etymology

The generic name Cortinarius is a reference to the partial veil or cortina (meaning a curtain) that covers the gills when caps are immature.

In the genus Cortinarius most species produce partial veils in the form of a fine web of radial fibres connecting the stem to the rim of the cap rather than a solid membrane.

Just as you might expect, the specific epithet mucifluoides is saying from the prefix muci- that this is a slimy webcap (sub-genus Myxacium) and from the suffix -oides that it is similar to Cortinarius mucifluus.

Toxicity

This mushroom is generally regarded as 'suspect' and may contain dangerous toxins; it should not be gathered for eating. Some reddish Cortinarius species with which the Girdled Webcap could be confused contain the toxin orellanine, which if eaten destroys human kidneys and liver.

Identification guide

Cap of Cortinarius mucifluoides

Cap

Ochraceous brown with a tawny centre; smooth and shiny; viscid when wet (see left); conical, expanding to become umbonate; margin may be either smooth or faintly striate; 4 to 9cm across.

Gills of Cortinarius mucifluoides

Gills

Creamy soon becoming clay-brown then ochre-rust-brown, the gills of the Purple Stocking Webcap are free or adnate. On young caps the cortina is pale violet or almost white.

Stem of Cortinarius mucifluoides

Stem

Initially white above ring zone but later stained rusty brown as spores fall from the gills, the stem of Cortinarius mucifluoides is slimy and covered in violaceous veil material below the ring zone.

Stems are fairly cylindrical, sometimes slightly fusiform (swollen in the central region) but not swollen at the base, 7 to 10cm long and 1 to 2cm in diameter.

Spores

Lemon shaped, densely verrucose, 12-16 x 6.5-9μm.

Show larger image

Spore print

Rusty brown.

Odour/taste

Odour of honey especially when cut at stem base; taste mild but not significant.

Habitat & Ecological role

In deciduous woodland, particularly under birches; sometimes also under conifers; usually on acidic soil.

Season

August to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Cortinarius collinitus and several other smallish slimy-capped webcaps have ochre, brown or red-brown caps, and separating them with certainty is difficult without resorting to testing chemicals and a microscope.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Funga Nordica, Henning Knudsen and Jan Vesterholt, 2008.

Fungi of Switzerland Agarics, part 3: Cortinariaceae, Breitenbach, J., Kränzlin, F.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes photographs kindly contributed by David Kelly.

Top of page...


Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd edn, hardback

If you have found this information helpful, we are sure you would also find our book Fascinated by Fungi by Pat O'Reilly very useful. Author-signed hardback copies at a special discount price are available here...

Other nature books from First Nature...