What You Should Know
Hygrophorus russula is an edible mushroom native to North America and Europe. Features defining Hygrophorus russula include its russula-like stature, the reddish spotting on the mature gills, the habitat under hardwoods, and the fact that the cap and stem often feature streaks and spots of purplish-pink shades.
The fruit bodies can be abundant some years, especially after rainfall, sometimes appearing in arcs or fairy rings. The cap is hemispherical before flattening out with age, though the cap margin remains inrolled.
Initially, the cap is viscid but soon dries. Grows under oaks and other hardwoods. Resembles russulas, but is fairly large and firm rather than extremely brittle.
It is a waxy cap mushroom that has mottled red, purple, and pink cap and white, closely spaced decurrent gills, which become stained with red, purple, and pink stains as they mature.
Other names: The Pinkmottle Woodwax, False Russula, Russula-like Waxy Cap.
Hygrophorus russula Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with oaks and other hardwoods; growing scattered or gregariously, sometimes in fairy rings or arcs; late summer and fall (also overwinter in warmer climates); widely distributed in North America.
4-13 cm; convex when young, becoming broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed; slimy when fresh, but often drying out quickly; bald, or finely hairy in places; the margin at first inrolled and soft or cottony, but eventually unrolling; reddish to pinkish, often with streaks or spots of color; often bruising yellow in places, especially near the margin.
Broadly attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; white when young, but soon developing reddish spots or becoming pinkish overall.
3-7 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; more or less equal; white at first but soon developing the colors of the cap; bald or finely hairy; solid.
White, or flushed with pink; thick; firm.
KOH on cap surface grayish tan, erasing pink.
Spores 5-8.5 x 3-5 µ; smooth; ellipsoid; smooth; hyaline in KOH; inamyloid. Hymenial cystidia absent. Basidia 4-sterigmate; to about 50 µ long. Lamellar trama divergent. Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm.
Hygrophorus russula Taxonomy
German naturalist Jacob Christian Schäffer described the species as Agaricus russula in 1774. The species name is derived from its reddish coloration, reminiscent of members of the genus Russula. French botanist Claude Casimir Gillet placed it in the genus Tricholoma in 1878, before American naturalist Calvin Henry Kauffman transferred it to Hygrophorus in 1918. Though Kauffman thought it resembled Tricholoma, he held that its waxy gills showed it to be better suited to the genus Hygrophorus.
Hygrophorus russula Medicinal Properties
Anti-tumor effects. Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of H. russula and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 100% (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
Photo 1 - Author: Matt Sherman (Shermanii) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Matt Sherman (Shermanii) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 3 - Author: GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Photo 4 - Author: GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)