What You Should Know
Cortinarius anomalus is an inedible basidiomycete mushroom of the genus Cortinarius. It produces medium-sized fruit bodies with a grayish-brown cap up to 5 cm (2 in) wide, gray-violet gills, and a whitish stem with pale yellow belts below. The mushroom grows solitarily or in scattered groups on the ground in deciduous and coniferous forests. It is found in deciduous, mixed, or more rarely coniferous woods. The fruit bodies appear late in the summer and autumn throughout the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere.
Like all fungi in the Cortinarius genus, this mushroom should not be eaten; it could easily be confused with some of the webcaps that contain orellanine and are known to be deadly poisonous.
Other names: Variable Webcap.
Cortinarius anomalus Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with hardwoods or conifers; growing alone or gregariously; fall; widely distributed in North America.
2-6 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex, flat, or slightly bell-shaped; dry; silky when young, developing a sheen with age; color variable, but generally grayish lilac to lilac brown when young, becoming browner from the center outward.
Attached to the stem; close; lilac gray at first, becoming rusty brown; covered by a whitish cortina when young.
3-8 cm long; up to 2 cm thick; equal or slightly swollen at the base; dry; lilac near the apex, at least when young; when young covered with whitish to yellowish veil material that breaks up into bands or sometimes disappears with maturity; solid, becoming hollow.
Whitish to lilac (especially in the stem).
Sweet and slightly unpleasant, or not distinctive.
Spores 7-9 x 6-7 µ; subglobose to very broadly ellipsoid; moderately verrucose. Cheilo- and pleurocystidia absent. Pileipellis a cutis.
Cortinarius anomalus Look-Alikes
Similar but has a stocking-like structure on its stem.
Silvery-white to gray-violet when young and has a thick, white fibrillose veil, a bulkier stem, and elliptical spores.
Has a browner cap when young, with more developed veil remnants, which are also browner.
Similar but more uniformly lilac species associated with beech.
Cortinarius anomalus Taxonomy and Etymology
When the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described this mushroom scientifically in 1818, he gave it the binomial name Agaricus anomalus; the basionym was retained in 1838 when Fries transferred this species to the new genus Cortinarius and the scientific name, by which this species is generally recognized today, became Cortinarius anomalus.
Synonyms of Cortinarius anomalus include Agaricus anomalus Fr., Cortinarius anomalus var. anomalus (Fr.) Fr., Cortinarius azureus Fr., Cortinarius lepidopus Cooke, Dermocybe anomala (Fr.) Ricken, Dermocybe azurea (Fr.) Ricken, Cortinarius anomalus var. lepidopus (Cooke) J. E. Lange, Cortinarius azureovelatus P. D. Orton, Cortinarius epsomiensis P. D. Orton, and Cortinarius anomalus f. lepidopus (Cooke) Nespiak.
The generic name Cortinarius is a reference to the partial veil or cortina (meaning a curtain) that covers the gills of immature caps. In the genus Cortinarius most species produce partial veils in the form of a fine web of radial fibers connecting the stem to the rim of the cap rather than a solid membrane.
The specific epithet anomalus means 'paradoxical' and implies that the appearance of this mushroom is very variable, making it difficult to identify with certainty from macroscopic characters alone.
Photo 1 - Author: Jerzy Opioła (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: James Lindsey (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: Jimmie Veitch (jimmiev) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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