What You Should Know
Cortinarius bolaris fruits from late summer to early winter mainly in beech woods. Its red-dappled cap is quite distinctive, especially in older specimens where the cap surface breaks up into annular rings of reddish scales on a buff background. Additional identifying features include the cylindric (rather than swollen) shape of the stem, the rusty orange bruising of the stem base, and the fact that the cap and stem are dry.
This mushroom is reputed to be poisonous. It should not be gathered for eating.
Other names: Dappled Webcap.
Cortinarius bolaris Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with hardwoods, often in wet areas; growing alone, gregariously, or in small troops; summer and fall; widely distributed in eastern North America, and documented in Costa Rica.
2.5-8 cm; convex or broadly bell-shaped at first, becoming broadly convex, broadly bell-shaped, or nearly flat; dry; covered with red to brownish red, appressed scales that become more separated as the cap expands, revealing the whitish to yellowish or pinkish flesh beneath.
Attached to the stem; close or crowded; dirty yellowish to dull cinnamon at first, becoming cinnamon to rusty; covered by a whitish cortina when young.
4-10 cm long; up to 1.5 cm thick; more or less equal; dry; whitish underneath stretched-out, red scales or irregular bands; discoloring and bruising rusty orange to red near the base; usually with a rusty ring zone above the scales and bands.
Whitish, becoming slowly yellowish when sliced and exposed to air.
KOH on cap surface black.
Spores 6-8 x 5-6 µ; subglobose to ovoid; moderately verrucose. Pleurocystidia absent. Marginal cells are clavate to subclavate. Pileipellis a cutis of orangish elements 5-10 µ wide, occasionally clamped.
Several other webcaps resemble Cortinarius bolaris. Among these are Cortinarius rubellus and Cortinarius orellanus which are deadly poisonous.
Cortinarius bolaris Taxonomy and Etymology
When the Dappled Webcap was described by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1801 it was given the name Agaricus bolaris. As with many of the webcaps, it was the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries who transferred this species to the genus Cortinarius in 1838, renaming it Cortinarius bolaris.
The generic name Cortinarius is a reference to the partial veil or cortina (meaning a curtain) that covers the gills when caps are immature. 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; remnants of the veil often adhere to the stem and become apparent when ripe spores fall onto them.
In David Gledhill's 'The Names of Plants', the entry for the specific epithet bolaris is 'dark red, brick-colored, modern Latin, bolaris; netted, (the surface is tessellated with reddish scales)'.
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