Mycena pura: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Mycena pura Mushroom
One of the most beautiful species of Mycena, this widely distributed mushroom is found decomposing forest litter under conifers (and occasionally under hardwoods) across North America. It features a strong, radishlike odor and taste, and a cap that is convex, flat, or broadly bell-shaped at maturity.
This mushroom contains a small amount of the poison muscarine; therefore it should not be eaten.
The colors of this species are extremely variable. When young and fresh, there is almost always lilac or purple involved but as the mushroom matures other hues may predominate. White or yellowish specimens are often encountered, as well as pink, pinkish brown, and even reddish specimens. Specimens with purely pink caps and pinkish gills are sometimes referred to as Mycena rosea.
Other names: Lilac Bonnet, Lilac Bellcap, Poison Radish Ground Mycena.
Mycena pura Identification
Cap 1.5-4.5 cm broad, conic, then convex, finally nearly plane with a low umbo, margin striate, sometimes upturned in age; surface smooth, moist, hygrophanous, color varying from purple, lilac, greyish-lilac, rose, pinkish-grey to nearly white, fading in age; flesh thin, pale lilac; taste and odor mildly of radish.
Gills adnexed, close, moderately broad, intervenose, colored like the cap but lighter, e.g. dingy-buff-lilac when young to pinkish-buff in age, edges paler than the faces.
Stipe 2-6 cm tall, 0.2-.7 cm thick, hollow, fragile, equal or tapering to an enlarged base, the latter hairy; surface pruinose at the apex, otherwise smooth, concolorous with the cap, e.g. lilac fading to pinkish-lilac in age; veil absent.
Spores 6-8.5 x 3-4 µm, smooth, elliptical, amyloid; spore print white.
Mycena pura Distribution
More common and less localized than the very similar but typically larger Mycena rosea, which is commonly known as the Rosy Bonnet, Mycena pura is found throughout Britain and Ireland as well as in most parts of mainland Europe. Mycena pura also occurs in North America, so also do pure pink bonnet mushrooms which correspond macroscopically and microscopically to the formal description of Mycena rosea; however, in the USA not all mycologists accept that these are two separate species despite evidence that the toxic chemicals in the two are not quite the same.
Mycena pura Taxonomy & Etymology
The basionym of this species was defined when, in 1794 Christiaan Hendrik Persoon described this species scientifically, calling it Agaricus purus. Its currently accepted scientific name dates from 1871, when the German mycologist Paul Kummer transferred this species to the genus Mycena, its name then becoming Mycena pura.
Synonyms of Mycena pura include Agaricus purus Pers., Gymnopus purus (Pers.) Gray, and Agaricus pseudopurus Cooke. Over the past 150 years many other mycologists have proposed varieties of Mycena pura, but (in Britain at least) currently they are all now treated as either Mycena pura or Mycena rosea.
The specific epithet pura comes from the Latin adjective purum and means pure or clean.
Mycena pura Bioactive Compounds
Mycena pura contains the chemical puraquinonic acid, a sesquiterpene. This compound induces mammalian cells (specifically, the cell line HL60) to differentiate into granulocyte- or macrophage-like cells. The fungus also contains the mycotoxin muscarine, and the antifungal metabolite strobilurin D, the latter previously found in Cyphellopsis anomala.
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