Russula paludosa Britzelm.

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Russulales - Family: Russulaceae

Russula emetica - The Sickener

Despite being easily mistaken for the poisonous Sickener and growing in the same habitat – coniferous woodland – Russula paludosa is a popular edible mushroom in Scandinavia, where it is very common in spruce plantations.

The specific epithet paludosa suggests an association with boggy land, and indeed this brittlegill often does occur under conifers (especially pines) in peaty, boggy areas... but by no means always so.

Russula paludosa, southern Sweden

Distribution

In Britain this pretty brittlegill is an occasional find in the uplands of Scotland, while reports of it being sighted in England, Wales or Ireland are very few and far between. Russula paludosa is quite common in Scadinavia, and its range extends southwards to countries in central Europe. There are reoports of Russula paludosa (or a very similar species under the same name) occuring in parts of North America.

Taxonomic history

This brittlegill mushrooml was described in 1890 by German mycologist Max Britzelmayr (1839 - 1909), who established its currently-accepted scientific name Russula paludosa.

Synonyms of Russula paludosa include Russula elatior Lindbl., Russula fragaria Kudrna, Russula integra var. paludosa (Britzelm.) Singer, and Russula olgae Velen.

Etymology

Russula, the generic name, means red or reddish, and indeed many of the brittlegills have red caps (but many more are not, and several of those that are usually red can also occur in a range of other colours!).

The specific epithet paludosa means of bogs, swamps or marshes - a reference to the damp mossy woodland habitats in which these colourful brittlegill mushrooms are most often found.

Identification guide

Russula paludosa - cap

Cap

Red, purplish bay brown or ochre; occasionally with pale patches; peeling 1/2 to centre; cap flesh is pink just beneath cuticle; hemispherical then convex, becoming flat with a central depression; margin becoming striate; 5 to 15cm across.

 

Gills

Cream, turning light ochre; adnexed; crowded.

Stem

White; cylindrical, occasionally swollen in centre or with a slightly clavate base; 4 to 15cm long (for a brittlegill this is exceptionally long relative to its cap diameter), 1 to 3cm diameter.

 

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to globose; 8-10.5 x 7-8μm, with large warts up to 1.2μm tall, some of which are joined by connecting lines forming a very partial reticulate network.

Spore print

Deep cream to dark ochre.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Damp mossy conifer forests. In common with other members of the Russulaceae, Russula paludosa is an ectomycorrhizal mushroom.

Season

August to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

The Beechwood Sickener, Russula nobilis, is is found under conifers; it is similar to red specimens of Russula paludosa when caps are young but caps remain convex rather than becoming depressed when fully mature.

Culinary Notes

This is a rare mushroom, at least in Britain and Ireland, and so when gathering mushrooms for food Russula paludosa should not be picked. In Scandinavia this brittlegill is considered a good edible species, but care is necessary as it is easily confused with poisonous red-capped mushrooms such as the Sickener Russula emetica which often occur in the same kinds of woodland habitats.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly (2016). Fascinated by Fungi, First Nature Publishing

Geoffrey Kibby (2011).The Genus Russula in Great Britain, published by G Kibby.

Roberto Galli (1996). Le Russule. Edinatura, Milan.

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

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.

Other web authorities on this species

Roger Phillips (UK)

Russulales News (Italy)

Marek Snowarski (Poland)

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