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Stropharia cyanea

by Michael Kuo, 19 April 2024

This species is so blue, and so gorgeous, that you'd think it would be unmistakable—but, alas, a microscope is probably needed to separate it confidently from the very similar Stropharia aeruginosa. Both species have grayish brown to purplish brown spore prints and sticky-when-fresh, blue to grean caps that fade to yellowish or brownish. But while the gills of Stropharia cyanea usually have edges that are colored like the faces (as opposed to having whitish edges that contrast with the faces, as is the case for Stropharia aeruginosa), and while the ring tends to be less well developed in cyanea, even in young specimens, these features are somewhat variable. Ultimately, the most reliable feature separating the two species is the sterile cells on the edges of the gills (the cheilocystidia): in aeruginosa they have swollen tips and lack refractive contents, while in cyanea they are widely fusiform and contain yellowish, refractive inclusions (which makes them "chrysocystidia").

Stropharia caerulea is a synonym, as is Psilocybe cyanea.

Thanks to Alison Sampson for collecting, documenting, and preserving Stropharia cyanea for study; her collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic, growing alone or gregariously; usually found in disturbed soil in woods or in gardens, landscaping areas, and waste places; sometimes appearing in woodchip beds; originally described from France (Bulliard 1874); widely distributed in Europe; North American distribution uncertain (vouchered in herbaria from northern and montane North America). The illustrated and described collections are from Colorado, Ontario, and France.

Cap: 2–5 cm; bell-shaped at first, becoming broadly bell-shaped or nearly convex; very slimy when fresh; bald; when young and fresh, dark greenish blue to green; often fading to yellowish green, yellowish, orangish yellow, or brownish, or becoming mottled and spotted with these colors; the margin hung with whitish partial veil remnants, especially when young.

Gills: Broadly attached to the stem at first, but receding from it with age; close; short-gills frequent; whitish at first, becoming purplish gray to purple-brown; edges colored like the faces.

Stem: 3–7 cm long; 5–10 mm thick; equal above a slightly swollen base; sticky when fresh; with a faint ring zone (usually lacking a well-developed ring); pale above, colored like the cap below; basal mycelium white.

Flesh: White, or in the lower stem colored like the cap; unchanging when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: Purplish black.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7–10 x 4.5–5.5 µm; ellipsoid or amygdaliform, with a tiny pore; smooth; thick-walled; brown in KOH; yellowish brown in Melzer's. Basidia 28–32 x 4–6 µm; clavate; 4-sterigmate. Cheilochrysocystidia 30–45 x 7.5–18 µm; widely fusoid, with a developing mucro; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline in KOH, with yellowish-refractive inclusions. Pleurochrysocystidia scattered; often scarcely projecting; 20–30 x 7.5–10 µm; subclavate to widely fusoid; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline in KOH, with yellowish-refractive inclusions. Pileipellis a thick ixocutis; elements 2.5–7.5 µm wide, smooth, hyaline to golden in KOH; clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: (J. B. F. Bulliard, 1874) R. Tuomikoski, 1953. (Bulliard, 1874; von Kreisel, 1977; Phillips, 1981; Watling & Gregory, 1987; Phillips, 1991/2005; Breitenbach & Kränzlin, 1995; Noordeloos, 1995; Noordeloos, 1999; Boccardo et al., 2008; Cortez & Silveira, 2008; Buczacki et al., 2013; Siegel & Schwarz, 2016; Ryman, 2018; Læssøe & Petersen, 2019; Kibby, 2021.) Herb. Kuo 08150301, 10171501.

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


Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

Stropharia cyanea

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Kuo, M. (2024, April). Stropharia cyanea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: