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Hygrophorus russula

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Tricholomataceae > Hygrophorus . . . ]

Taxonomy in Transition: Hygrophoroid/Omphalinoid > Hygrophoraceae Group

by Michael Kuo

Hygrophorus russula certainly does look like a Russula until you inspect it closely: its flesh is not at all crumbly and brittle like the flesh in russulas. Truth be told, however, it looks a lot more like a russula than a waxy cap, which is what it is. Two of the most well known defining features of waxy caps are slimy caps and thick, waxy gills; Hygrophorus russula does have a slimy cap, but it soon dries out--and the gills are only arguably "thick and waxy."

Features defining Hygrophorus russula include the reddish spotting on the mature gills, the habitat under hardwoods, and the fact that the cap and stem often feature streaks and spots of purplish pink shades. Several conifer-loving Hygrophorus species are very close in appearance; see the comments below.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods (especially oaks); growing scattered or gregariously, sometimes in fairy rings or arcs; late summer and fall (also winter in California); widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 5-12 cm; convex or round when young, becoming broadly convex to flat; slimy, but often drying out quickly; smooth or finely hairy in places; the margin inrolled and soft or cottony, eventually unrolling; reddish to pinkish, often with streaks or spots of color; often bruising yellow in places, especially near the margin.

Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; white when young, soon developing reddish spots or becoming pinkish overall.

Stem: 3-7 cm long; 1.5-3.5 cm thick; more or less equal; white at first but soon developing the colors of the cap; smooth or finely hairy; solid.

Flesh: White, or flushed with pink; thick; hard.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6-8 x 3-4.5 µ; smooth; elliptical. Gill tissue divergent. Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm.

REFERENCES: (Schaeffer, 1774) Kauffman, 1918. (Kauffman, 1918; Hesler & Smith, 1963; Bird & Grund, 1979; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Largent, 1985; Arora, 1986; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 09289602, 09300303.

Hygrophorus erubescens, a conifer loving species, is similar in appearance; it has distant or nearly distant gills, more pronounced yellow bruising, spores measuring 7-10 x 5-6 µ, and is somewhat smaller. Hygrophorus amarus, also similar, has a bitter taste and pale greenish yellow immature gills. It, too, grows under conifers. See also the conifer-loving Hygrophorus purpurascens, which has a partial veil.

Further Online Information:

Hygrophorus russula in Hesler & Smith (1963)
Hygrophorus russula at Roger's Mushrooms
Hygrophorus russula at Macrofungi of Costa Rica


Hygrophorus russula

Hygrophorus russula

Hygrophorus russula

Hygrophorus russula

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Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2007, January). Hygrophorus russula. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: