Russula sanguinaria: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Russula sanguinaria Mushroom
Russula sanguinaria is a strikingly colored mushroom of the genus Russula, which has the common name of brittlegills. It is bright blood-red, inedible, and grows in association with coniferous trees. It was previously widely known as Russula sanguinea.
The Bloody Brittlegill is widespread and common in many European countries. There are reports of Russula sanguinaria (or a very similar species) being common and widespread in North America.
Russula rosacea, in the sense of many authors, is a synonym. According to some mycologists, Russula sanguinaria is also a synonym.
Other names: Bloody Brittlegill.
Russula sanguinaria Identification
Mycorrhizal with pines--especially 2-needled pines like Bishop pine and red pine--and perhaps with other conifers; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; summer and fall, or overwinter in warm climates; possibly widely distributed in North America.
2-10 cm; convex when young, becoming broadly convex to flat, sometimes with a shallow depression; sometimes sticky when fresh or wet; fairly smooth; dark to bright red but sometimes fading in age; the margin not lined or merely slightly lined at maturity; the skin fairly adnate, peeling only at the margin.
Attached to the stem or running slightly down it; close; white when young but soon creamy to yellowish or yellow.
3-10 cm long; 1.5-2.5 cm thick; firm; colored like the cap or paler--or flushed red over a white base color; dry; fairly smooth.
White; unchanging when sliced.
Odor and Taste
Odor not distinctive; taste quickly and usually strongly acrid.
Creamy to yellowish or orange-yellow.
KOH on cap surface pale orange; iron salts on stem surface negative to pinkish.
Spores 7-9 x 6-7 µ; with isolated warts .5-1 µ high; connectors scattered and infrequent, only occasionally forming partially reticulated areas. Pileipellis a cutis of well-defined or partially gelatinized, hyaline elements. Pileocystidia cylindric to subclavate; 0-4 septate; to about 100 x 10 µ; positive in sulphovanillin and ochraceous-refractive in KOH.
Russula sanguinaria Look-Alikes
Is sometimes red with a stem also flushed the same color; it smells of crab meat.
According to Thiers (1997b) differs only in spore dimensions; its spores measure 9-11 x 8-11 µ. Russula americana may eventually be the name best applied to the West Coast versions of Russula sanguinea.
Russula sanguinaria Taxonomy & Etymology
This beautiful brittlegill mushroom was first described in 1803 by Danish botanist Heinrich Christian Friedrich Schumacher (1757-1830), who named it Agaricus sanguinarius. The Bloody Brittlegill was formally redescribed and given its present binomial name in a paper (published in 1989, after his death) by the German mycologist Stephan Rauschert (1931-1986).
Synonyms of Russula sanguinaria include Agaricus rosaceus Pers., Agaricus sanguinarius Schumach., Russula rosacea (Pers.) Gray, and Russula sanguinea var. rosacea (Pers.) J.E. Lange.
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 colors!).
The specific epithet sanguinaria comes from the Latin noun sanguis, meaning blood; it refers of course to the blood-like color of caps and stems of these brittlegill mushrooms.
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