Laccaria amethystina: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Laccaria Amethystine Mushroom
Laccaria amethystina is a striking mushroom with an intense violet color. Though not very profitable, it was picked to embellish and decorate some dishes. Nowadays its use is discouraged because it can cause gastrointestinal disorders.
This fungus grows in deciduous as well as coniferous forests. The mushroom itself is edible but can absorb arsenic from the soil. Because its bright amethyst coloration fades with age and weathering, it becomes difficult to identify, hence the common name ‘Deceiver’. This common name is shared with its close relation Laccaria laccata that also fades and weathers. It is found mainly in Northern temperate zones, though it is reported to occur in tropical Central and South America as well.
Other names: Amethyst Tallow-Gill, Amethyst Deceiver.
Laccaria amethystina Identification
Mycorrhizal with hardwoods (especially partial to oaks and beech); growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; late spring and summer; widely disributed east of the Rocky Mountains.
0.5-3.5 cm; broadly convex to flat; often with a central depression; the margin even or inrolled, not lined, or slightly lined at maturity; finely hairy-scaly, or nearly bald; bright grayish purple, fading to buff; changing color markedly as it dries out (often resulting in "two-toned" specimens).
Attached to the stem, or rarely running down it; distant or nearly so; thick; waxy; dark purple or colored like the cap.
1-7 cm long; 1-7 mm thick; equal or slightly swollen at the base; finely to coarsely hairy or scaly; colored like the cap; with lilac to whitish basal mycelium.
Insubstantial; colored like the cap or paler.
Spore Print: White.
Laccaria amethystina Taxonomy & Etymology
Amethyst Deceiver was first described in 1778 by the English botanist William Hudson, who named it Agaricus amethystinus. (In the early days of fungal taxonomy most gilled mushrooms were placed in one gigantic Agaricus grouping, which has since been broken up into many other genera, leaving in the Agaricus genus a relatively small group of the 'true mushrooms', as they are sometimes called.)
Another famous British mycologist, Mordecai Cubitt Cooke, moved this species into its present genus in 1884, at which time the scientific name became Laccaria amethystina.
Synonyms of Laccaria amethystina include Agaricus amethysteus, Laccaria amethystea, Laccaria laccata var. amethystea, Omphalia amethystea, Agaricus amethystinus Huds., Agaricus lividopurpureus With., and Laccaria laccata var. amethystina (Cooke) Rea.
The Amethyst Deceiver is categorized as Laccaria amethystea in many field guides that are currently in print as well as on several popular web pages.
The specific epithet amethystina refers to the amethyst coloring of the fresh cap of this woodland mushroom.
Laccaria amethystina Cooking Notes
Unfortunately, these will lose their purple color no matter what when you cook them. You could treat these just like any mushrooms from the store, except for eating their stem, as it is rather hard and tough. They have a pleasant mushroomy flavor but aren’t anything crazy.
Fine to add to a soup or stew, or casserole or a mix of other fall mushrooms. They are fun to find though, as is anything so colorful during the witching hour between fall colors and the onset of snow here in the Midwest.
They are great candidates for slicing thinly and drying. They can also be pickled, cooked or sauteed and frozen.
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