Cortinarius camphoratus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Cortinarius camphoratus Mushroom
Cortinarius camphoratus is an agaric fungus in the family Cortinariaceae. It is characterized by pale blue lilac colors when young, and a strong distinctive odor. The fungus is found in Europe and North America, where its fruit bodies (mushrooms) grow on the ground in a mycorrhizal association with spruce and firs in coniferous forests. Sources disagree as to the edibility of the mushroom, but they are generally not recommended for eating.
The convex cap is buff with a hint of lavender and is covered with matted fibers. The cortina, or partial veil, is white. The inrolled margin unfurls as the cap expands with age. The gills are initially pale lavender but become rust-brown as the spores mature. The solid fibrous stem is concolorous with the cap and is typically wider toward the base.
Cortinarius camphoratus is found in Europe and North America, where it grows in a mycorrhizal association with conifers, including firs but especially with spruce. Mushrooms are found on the ground growing singly, scattered, or in groups, usually between September and October.
Other names: Camphor, Goat Cheese, Decomposing Meat, Rotting Potatoes, Smelly Socks.
Cortinarius camphoratus Identification
Young caps are convex with an inrolled margin, later flattening as they expand but often retaining a shallow umbo. The cap diameter varies from 4 to 10cm at maturity.
At first, a beautiful pale ochre flushed with lilac, the cap surface is finely fibrillose; the cap center turns golden ochre and becomes more smooth and shiny with age. The flesh of the cap and of the stem is a beautiful lilac or pale purple color.
The adnate gills are pale lilac at first, turning rusty brown as the spores mature.
5-10com long and 1-2cm in diameter, the stem of the Goatcheese Webcap is the same color as the cap; it is covered with fine longitudinal fibrils below the ring zone, which becomes more evident with age as it gathers a fine dusting of falling rust-brown spores. The stem is solid, not hollow.
Ellipsoidal, finely warty; 9-11 by 5-6μm.
Odor and Taste
The odor reminiscent of camphor, mature goat's cheese, rotting potatoes or (some people say) sweaty feet. Taste is not significant.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Often on acid soil, in coniferous woodland, where it is mycorrhizal with spruces (Picea species) and firs (Abies species).
Cortinarius camphoratus Look-Alikes
Has a deeper lilac color, has pale ochre gills when young, and its stem flesh develops reddish spots.
Has a dark violet cap, gills, and stem, and its flesh is a much deeper violet throughout.
It has a somewhat duller fruit body color and gills that turn brown with age. Found in Tasmania, Australia.
Cortinarius camphoratus Taxonomy & Etymology
When in 1821 the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described this webcap mushroom in his Systema Mycologicum he gave it the scientific name Cortinarius camphoratus; this was the name sanctioned via his Epicrisis Systematis Mycologici: seu synopsis hymenomycetum of 1838.
Synonyms of Cortinarius camphoratus include Cortinarius amethysteus (Schaeff.) Quél., Agaricus amethystinus Schaeff., Agaricus camphoratus Fr., and Cortinarius hircinus Fr.
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.
The specific epithet camphoratus refers to a camphor-like odor, and to those of us of 'a certain age' that suggests the smell of mothballs; however, with extensive use of synthetic fibers clothes moths are not such a problem nowadays, and not everyone recognizes the smell of camphor (despite its many other uses in medicine, fireworks, etc).
The common name adopted in the British Mycological Society's English Names of Fungi refers to the somewhat similar odor of cheese made with goat's milk.
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