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Cortinarius iodes

[Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Cortinariaceae > Cortinarius ... ]

by Michael Kuo

Here is a beautiful species of Cortinarius from northeastern North America's oak forests. It features a slimy cap and stem, and its purple to lavender or lilac colors become spotted with yellowish to tan areas. Like other species in the genus, it features a cortina and a rusty brown spore print. Cortinarius iodeoides is very similar. It is ostensibly different in that the slime on its cap tastes bitter, rather than mild--but I don't recommend licking the slime on unknown mushrooms; the two species are more reliably separated on the basis of their differing spore sizes.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods, especially oaks; growing alone or gregariously; summer and fall; eastern North America (also reported from the Pacific Northwest), documented in Colombia and Costa Rica.

Cap: 2.5-5 cm; convex to broadly convex or broadly bell-shaped; slimy; smooth; purple, becoming faded somewhat, with yellowish spots developing, especially near the center.

Gills: Attached to the stem; close; purple, becoming cinnamon to rusty; covered by a cortina when young.

Stem: 5-7.5 cm long; .5-1 cm thick; slimy; pale or purplish; more or less equal but often with a bulbous base, especially when young; sometimes with a rusty ring zone.

Flesh: Purplish to pale; soft.

Odor and Taste: Cap slime (sorry) mild. Odor not distinctive.

Spore Print: Rusty.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-12 x 5-7 µ; ellipsoid; slightly to moderately verrucose. Hymenial cystidia absent. Pileipellis an ixolattice.

REFERENCES: Berkeley & M. A. Curtis, 1853. (Saccardo, 1887; Kauffman, 1918; Kauffman, 1932; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Binion et al., 2008.)

Cortinarius heliotropicus Peck (1904, below) is probably a synonym. However, since Peck's microscopic data cannot be trusted (his archaic microscope was not reliable), and since he lists the taste as "mild or slightly and tardily acrid," it might also be a synonym for Cortinarius iodeoides--in which case Peck's would be the older and, therefore, correct name. A type study of Peck's species might resolve this issue.

Peck, C. H. (1904), Report of the state botanist. Bulletin of the New York State Museum 94: 22.

Cortinarius heliotropicus

Further Online Information:

Cortinarius iodes at Roger's Mushrooms
Cortinarius iodes at Macrofungi of Costa Rica


Cortinarius iodes

Cortinarius iodes

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Kuo, M. (2011, December). Cortinarius iodes. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: