What You Should Know
Russula cyanoxantha is an edible mushroom of the highest quality and can be prepared in many different ways. Fresh mushrooms are also excellent when combined with scrambled eggs.
This mushroom is most often found with reddish-purple coloring. Other common cap colors include mixtures of violet, brown, yellow, blue, grey - all shades seen when charcoal burns. This common is usually plentiful in beechwoods and under grand old trees in parkland. Widely distributed in North America.
Other names: Charcoal Burner, Parrot Russula, Blue And Yellow Russula, Charbonnière (French), Frauentäubling (German).
Russula cyanoxantha Mushroom Identification
5-15 cm, initially globose, then convex, with slightly depressed center, cupped in the adult fungus, fleshy, fairly compact; smooth edge, not grooved, rolled inward in the young fungus, straight and finally rolled backward in the adult one. Oily cuticle, brilliant, greasy with wet weather, separable up to about half of the radius, when taken off it shows the underlying flesh having an almost lilac, violet color; the color, much variable, goes from the lilac-violet to the brownish-violet, to the black-green, the violet-gray-green, at times stained in spots.
Thick gills, low, adnate, almost decurrent, large, typically greasy to the touch, arched, forked in an inconstant way, especially towards the margin, with several lamellulas; white, whitish, at times spotting of brownish on the edge when ripe.
7-10 x 1,5-3 cm, cylindroid, at times ventricose or enlarged in the lower part, at times attenuated downward, rugulose, fleshy, full, from firm to spongy, chunky; completely white, at times spotted of violet especially towards the base, getting grey by imbibition, pruinose initially, then smooth.
Firm, hard, compact, white, violet under the cuticle, almost lilac, smell almost absent, in any case, good, becoming unpleasant when getting an old, mild taste.
Very common species, growing from early summer to autumn under latifolia trees as well as under conifers, from the Mediterranean zone up to North Europe.
Choice edible, it might be consumed even raw in a dressed salad, preferring, in such case, those coming out under chestnuts and turkey oaks.
Russula cyanoxantha Taxonomy and Etymology
The Charcoal Burner mushroom was described in 1762 by Jacob Christian Schaeffer, who gave it the binomial scientific name Agaricus cyanoxanthus.
In 1863 the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries transferred this species to the genus Russula, establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Russula cyanoxantha.
Synonyms of Russula cyanoxantha include Agaricus cyanoxanthus Schaeff., Russula furcata, Russula cyanoxantha var. cyanoxantha (Schaeff.) Fr., Russula cutefracta Cooke, Russula cyanoxantha f. pallida Singer, Russula cyanoxantha f. peltereaui Singer, Russula cyanoxantha var. cutefracta (Cooke) Sarnari, and Russula cyanoxantha f. cutefracta (Cooke) Sarnari.
Russula, the generic name, means red or reddish, and indeed many of the brittlegills have red caps (but many more are not, and several of those that are usually red can also occur in a range of other colours!). The specific epithet cyanoxantha comes from cyan- meaning blue and -xantha meaning yellow or blond - suggesting only a limited combination of the many colours seen in caps of these brittlegill mushroom.
Run a finger gently across the gills of most other Russula species and you create a snowstorm of broken gill fragments. Not so with Russula cyanoxantha, whose gills simply bend under pressure and spring back into shape afterwards. If a brittlegill passes the 'rubber gills' test it is then worth going ahead with a taste test - Charcoal Burners are mild and will not burn your tongue.
Russula cyanoxantha Video
All photos were taken by the Ultimate Mushroom team and can be used for your own purposes under the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.