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Laccaria ochropurpurea

[ Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Hydnangiaceae > Laccaria . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This robust and beautiful mushroom is often found in late summer or fall, fruiting in large numbers under hardwoods or conifers east of the Rocky Mountains. The purple gills, pale brownish to lilac cap that often fades to whitish, distinctive stature, and white spore print distinguish it from most other mushrooms. It bears a close resemblance to many species of Cortinarius in the subgenus Seriocybe, but those mushrooms have a cortina covering the young gills, and rusty brown spore prints (consequently, the gills in mature specimens are also rusty brown).

Laccaria ochropurpurea is variable in its colors and stature. It frequently disappoints mushroom hunters who have gotten down on hands and knees to examine a thrilling, never-before-found species--that turns out to be just another Laccaria ochropurpurea.

In my area (central Illinois), Laccaria ochropurpurea is the frequent victim of an attack by a greenish, mossy-looking imperfect fungus. An "imperfect fungus," also known as an anamorph, is the asexual stage of a fungus that may or may not also have a "perfect" or sexual stage, also known as a teleomorph. Although the imperfect fungus attacking Laccaria ochropurpurea is reminiscent of some species of Hypomyces, the Hypomyces species that attack mushrooms are teleomorphs, producing asci and sexual spores. Laccaria ochropurpurea's attacker, by contrast, bears "conidia," or asexual spores, that feature thick dividing walls.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods and conifers; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; especially partial to oaks and beech, but also frequently found in young plantations of eastern white pine; common; late summer and fall; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.

Cap: 3.5-12 cm; broadly convex, becoming flat and sometimes uplifted; often with a central depression; the margin even or inrolled, not lined; nearly smooth or finely hairy-scaly; light lilac brown becoming light brown, fading to buff or nearly white.

Gills: Attached to the stem, or rarely down it; nearly distant, or close; thick; waxy; dark purple; in age sometimes dusted with white from spores.

Stem: 4.5-19 cm long; 0.5-2.5 cm thick; equal or swollen at the base; coarsely hairy or scaly; colored like the cap; with lilac basal mycelium; solid; sometimes discoloring brownish to reddish brown.

Flesh: Thick; colored like the cap or paler.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH fleetingly orangish on cap and stem; ammonia reaction similar.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-9 x 7-9 µ; subglobose to globose; ornamented with spines 1-2 µ long and 1-1.5 µ wide at their bases. Basidia 4-spored, rarely 2-spored. Cheilocystidia narrowly cylindric, subclavate, or subcapitate; 25-65 x 2.5-9 µ. Pileipellis a cutis of elements 4-10 µ wide, with scattered upright elements.

REFERENCES: (Berkeley, 1845) Peck, 1907. (Saccardo, 1887; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Weber & Smith, 1985; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Mueller, 1997; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007.) Herb. Kuo 09109603, 08240209, 10160303, 07200701.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Laccaria ochropurpurea

Attack of an "Imperfect Fungus"

See comments to the left.

Imperfect fungus on Laccaria ochropurpurea

Imperfect fungus on Laccaria ochropurpurea

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Kuo, M. (2010, December). Laccaria ochropurpurea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: