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Cystoderma cinnabarinum

[Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Tricholomataceae > Cystoderma . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This attractive mushroom has a cinnabar cap that is covered with mealy granules, and a stem that is distinctively sheathed. It is a saprobe under conifers, helping to decompose needle duff and forest debris. The color of the cap and the habitat under conifers, together with its fairly large size, will separate Cystoderma cinnabarinum from many other species of Cystoderma--but microscopic analysis (details below) may be required to separate it from a handful of potentially similar species.


Ecology: Saprobic; growing alone, gregariously, or in loose clusters under conifers and occasionally under hardwoods (sometimes fruiting from well rotted wood); summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 3-8 cm; dry; egg-shaped or convex at first, becoming broadly convex, broadly bell-shaped, or nearly flat; covered with mealy, granular scales; cinnabar red to orange or rusty cinnamon.

Gills: Attached to the stem but pulling away from it by maturity; close or crowded; white; at first covered by the partial veil.

Stem: 3-6 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; more or less club-shaped; dry; smooth and whitish to pale cinnamon near the apex, but sheathed with cinnabar granular scales from the base upwards, the sheath terminating in a flimsy ring zone; the granules often wearing away as the mushroom matures, exposing a coarse, whitish surface below.

Flesh: Whitish.

Odor and Taste: Taste mild, slightly oily, or mealy; odor similar.

Chemical Reactions: KOH on cap surface dark purple to black.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 4-5 x 2.5-3 µ; elliptical; smooth; inamyloid. Cheilocystidia elongated fusoid-ventricose; 30-46 x 5-9 µ; often apically encrusted. Pleurocystidia absent, or present and comparable to cheilocystidia. Pileipellis elements with rusty brown walls in KOH; chained together; variously sized and shaped. The presence of cystidia is the best character separating Cystoderma cinnabarinum from orangish forms of Cystoderma granulosum.

REFERENCES: (Albertini & Schweinitz, 1805) Fayod, 1889. (Saccardo, 1887; Smith & Singer, 1945; Harmaja, 1979; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Phillips, 1991/2005; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 10160404, 08130705, 08130706.

Cystoderma terreii (variously spelled terreyi and terrei) is a synonym, and should probably be the "correct" name for Cystoderma cinnabarinum, since it is the older name.

The mushrooms in the fourth photo were identified for the photographer by a Canadian mycologist as Cystoderma granulosum. I have assigned them to Cystoderma cinnabarinum on the basis of the indicated size, the orange colors, and the conifer duff present on the stem bases--but I have not examined the specimens microscopically.

Further Online Information:

Cystoderma cinnabarinum at Roger's Mushrooms


Cystoderma cinnabarinum

Cystoderma cinnabarinum

Cystoderma cinnabarinum

Cystoderma cinnabarinum

Cystoderma cinnabarinum

Cystoderma cinnabarinum
Cheilocystidia and spores

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2005, February). Cystoderma cinnabarinum. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: