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Russula brevipes

[ Basidiomycetes > Russulales > Russulaceae > Russula . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This common russula is initially whitish, but it soon develops tan or brownish shades--though it can also remain fairly pale overall. The gills typically bruise brownish, and the stem is often fairly short in proportion to the cap. It is a sturdy and compact mushroom with a mild or slightly acrid taste (though variety acrior is strongly acrid).

I find Russula brevipes most frequently in mixed woods with sandy soil, in northern Michigan, where I have seen fruitings in the hundreds. Lactarius deceptivus is often growing alongside Russula brevipes, and separating the two species at a glance can be all but impossible. However, Lactarius species produce drops of milk when injured, making it easy to distinguish the two species with a pocket knife. I might add, however, that one tires of this fairly quickly ("That's a Russula, that's a Lactarius, that's a Russula . . ."), especially if there are other, more interesting mushrooms around.

There may be several genetically distinct species passing as Russula brevipes; the group awaits a revision based on contemporary analysis and data.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with conifers; growing alone, scattered, or (typically) gregariously; common; summer and fall, or over winter in warm climates; fairly widely distributed in North America, at least as a species group.

Cap: 9-20 cm; convex with a central depression and an inrolled margin when young, later broadly convex with a central depression, the margin remaining somewhat inrolled or straightening; dry; smooth or minutely felty/scruffy, sometimes becoming cracked in age; white to whitish or creamy at first, developing brownish discolorations; the margin not lined; the skin fairly tightly adnate, not peeling easily.

Gills: Attached to the stem or running down it slightly; crowded or close; white at first, later creamy to pale yellow; sometimes spotting and discoloring brownish; in var. acrior sometimes bluish, especially near the juncture with the stem.

Stem: 3-8 cm long; 2.5-4 cm thick; sturdy and solid; more or less equal; dry; smooth; whitish; sometimes discoloring and bruising brownish.

Flesh: White; sometimes discoloring brownish.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive or faintly foul; taste mild to slightly acrid--or moderately to strongly acrid in var. acrior.

Spore Print: White to buff.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-11 x 6.5-8.5 µ; broadly elliptical to nearly round; warts officially .7-1.7 µ high (Shaffer, 1964) but frequently lower, in my experience; connectors sometimes infrequent, but more often present and forming partially reticulated areas. Pileipellis a cutis of interwoven, hyaline, worm-like elements with rounded apices; pileocystidia absent; oleiferous hyphae often present.

REFERENCES: Peck, 1890. (Saccardo, 1891; Kauffman, 1918; Shaffer, 1964; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Arora, 1986; Kibby & Fatto, 1990; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Evenson, 1997; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 09059507, 01120614.

Russula brevipes var. megaspora is recorded from California; it differs in spore size (9-14 x 8-12 µ). See also Russula brevipes var. acrior, to the right.

Russula delica is a similar European species.

Further Online Information:

Russula brevipes at MykoWeb
Russula brevipes at Roger's Mushrooms
Russula brevipes at Russulales News


Russula brevipes

Russula brevipes

Russula brevipes

Russula brevipes var. acrior

Russula brevipes var. acrior
Characterized by its very acrid taste and the bluish line where the gills meet the stem (enlarge illustration).

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Kuo, M. (2009, March). Russula brevipes. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: