What You Should Know
Cortinarius sanguineus is a species of fungus in the genus Cortinarius. The blood-red color of the cap gills and stem of this beautiful mushroom fully justify the common name of this webcap. It is found mainly in coniferous woodland and particularly in dark, damp, and mossy forests.
The pigment from the C. sanguineus can be used as a dye for wool, rendering it shades of pink, purple or red. The major pigments in C. sanguineus are emodin, dermocybin and dermorubin.
This mushroom is reported to contain anthracene compounds and is recorded as 'suspect' in many field guides; therefore it should not be gathered for eating. Some reddish Cortinarius species with which the Bloodred Webcap could be confused contain the toxin orellanine, which if eaten destroys human kidneys and liver.
Other names: Blood Red Webcap.
Cortinarius sanguineus Mushroom Identification
2 to 5 cm across, broadly convex, usually with a broad umbo at maturity, deep blood red; covered in radiating silky fibrils.
The adnate gills are moderately spaced and blood red, turning red-brown with age.
Similar to cap color, becoming paler towards the base; cylindrical, but slightly swollen towards base; 3 to 8cm long, 7 to 11mm diameter.
Ellipsoidal, with a rough surface, 7-9 x 4-6µm.
Odor and Taste
Odor is not significant. Beware of tasting reddish Cortinarius species, some of which are deadly poisonous.
Habitat & Ecological Role
In coniferous woodland.
Cortinarius semisanguineus, the Surprise Webcap, has blood-red gills but its cap is pale.
Cortinarius sanguineus Taxonomy and Etymology
Austrian naturalist Franz Xaver von Wulfen described the species as Agaricus sanguineus in 1781, reporting that it appeared in the fir tree forests around Klagenfurt and Ebenthal and in October. He noted that it was very pretty but not edible. The specific epithet is the Latin word sanguineus, meaning "bloody". Samuel Frederick Gray established Cortinarius as a genus in the first volume of his 1821 work A Natural Arrangement of British Plants, recording the species as Cortinaria sanguinea "the bloody curtain-stool".
Friedrich Otto Wünsche described it as Dermocybe sanguinea in 1877. Most mycologists retain Dermocybe as merely a subgenus of Cortinarius as genetically all the species lie within the latter genus.
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 rather than a solid membrane.
It is closely related to Cortinarius puniceus, which grows under oak and beech from England and France.
Photo 1 - Author: Len Worthington (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 2 - Author: Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand (Public Domain)
Photo 3 - Author: Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand (Public Domain)
Photo 4 - Author: JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)