Russula queletii Fr. - Fruity Brittlegill

Russula queletii, Fruity Brittlegill

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

Russula queletii, the Fruity Brittlegill, is mycorrhizal with spruce trees (Picea species) and is a fairly common find in the conifer plantations of western Europe. Usually these brittlegills have purplish caps, but older specimens fade to become more of a violet-red colour. The whitish gills distinguish them from the Primrose Brittlegill.

The fruity odour from crushed fruitbodies is reminiscent of gooseberry jam, but if you taste the flesh you will find it surprisingly hot and bitter.

Russula queletii, Fruity Brittlegill, Wales

Taxonomic history

The Fruity Brittlegill mushroom was described in 1872 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who gave it its currently-accepted scientific binomial name Russula queletii.

Synonyms of Russula queletii include Russula queletii var. flavovirens (J. Bommer & M. Rousseau) Maire, Russula flavovirens J. Bommer & M. Rousseau, and Russula drimeia var. queletii (Fr.) Rea

In the past this brittlegill was included in a complex of species under the name Russula sardonia, a name now reserved solely for the Primrose Brittlegill. Significantly, the Fruity Brittlegill and the Primrose Brittlegill are very similar in colouring except that Russula sardonia has lemon-yellow gills whereas Russula queletii has creamy-white gills.

Distribution

Found in coniferous woodland that contains spruce trees, Russula queletii occurs throughout Britain and Ireland but is not very common. This brittlegill occurs also also throughout most of mainland Europe, and a species sharing the same scientific name (possibly even the same species) is found in parts of North America.

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 queletii honours French mycologist Lucien Quélet.

Identification guide

Cap

3 to 7cm diameter, not noticeably grooved at the margin, the caps are initially convex, then expanding and becoming slightly depressed, often with a slight umbo. The cap flesh white.

Gills of Russula queletii

Gills

The white or pale cream gills are adnate.

Stem

3 to 8cm long  and 5 to 18mm in diameter, the stems are flushed with the same colour as the cap or somewhat paler.

Spores of Russula queletii

Spores

Ellipsoidal, 7-9 x 6-7.5μm (excluding spines); ornamented with large isolated warts up to 1.2 μm tall but without connecting lines.

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Spore print

Cream.

Odour/taste

Fruity odour; very hot acrid taste.

Habitat & Ecological role

In coniferous woodland nearly always with spruce trees. In common with other members of the Russulaceae, Russula queletii is an ectomycorrhizal mushroom.

Season

July to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Russula atropurpurea, the Purple Brittlegill, is larger with a very dark, almost black cap centre and pale cream gills; its stem base is rusty brown.

Culinary Notes

Despite its fruity odour, this brittlegill has a very bitter taste and is therefore not generally considered edible.

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.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

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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