What You Should Know
Russula betularum is a small, very pale member of the Russula (brittlegills) genus of mushrooms. It is usually white to very pale pink and grows with birch trees. Associated with hardwoods, particularly birch. It is a European species that has been confirmed by DNA analysis to also exist here in the northeast of North America. Russula betularum appears in summer and early autumn.
The specific epithet betularum "of the birches", refers to its association with birch (Betula species). Some sources regard it as a variety of the sickener (R. emetica).
This mushroom is inedible and has a hot 'peppery' taste. Many bitter-tasting red-capped species can cause problems if eaten raw; the symptoms are mainly gastrointestinal: diarrhea, vomiting, and colicky abdominal cramps. The active agent has not been identified but is thought to be sesquiterpenes, which have been isolated from the related genus Lactarius and Russula sardonia.
Other names: Birch Brittlegill.
Russula betularum Mushroom Identification
The cap is smooth, white to very pale pink. The cuticle can easily be removed completely.
The gills white to slightly cream and have somewhat serrated edges.
The stem is white and brittle.
The flesh white, very fragile and has a somewhat fruity or honeylike odor.
The taste is stinging hot.
Photo 1 - Author: Eric Steinert (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic)
Photo 2 - Author: Eric Steinert (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: Eric Steinert (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic)
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