What You Should Know
Russula queletii are found growing in groups, predominantly in spruce forests. The cap is hemispherical when young, which later becomes convex. The color can be wine-red and is usually 5 to 6 cm in diameter but can be up to 10 cm. The gills are white, which are brittle, and the spores are cream. The stem is a similar color to the cap and is evenly thick. The flesh is white and the scent is fruity. Eating this mushroom causes abdominal pains.
The true Russula queletii of Europe is associated primarily with spruces and is probably distinct from our North American versions, some of which associate with spruce, but others of which associate with pines (especially the two-needled species).
Other names: Fruity Brittlegill, Gooseberry Russula.
Russula queletii Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with conifers, especially spruces and 2-needled pines; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; summer and fall; widely reported in western and northern North America.
3-8 cm; convex or bell-shaped when young, becoming broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed; sticky at first or when wet; bald; dark blackish-purple when young, becoming deep purple or brownish purple (sometimes also reported with greenish shades mixed in); the margin lined by maturity; the skin peeling easily 1/2-2/3 to the center.
Broadly attached to the stem or just beginning to run down it; close; white to creamy.
3-8 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; pale to dark purple or pinkish purple; bald or slightly hairy; sometimes staining yellow at the base.
White; unchanging when sliced.
Odor and Taste
Odor not distinctive, or sometimes sweetish and slightly fruity; taste acrid.
Cap and stem retaining purple shades; gills dull yellowish.
KOH on cap surface reddish-orange. Iron salts pale pink on the stem surface.
White to creamy.
Spores 7-9 x 5-6 µ; ellipsoid; with isolated amyloid warts to 1 µ high; connectors scattered and rare. Pleuro-and cheilomacrocystidia cylindric to fusiform; hyaline in KOH; abundant; to about 75 x 12 µ. Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm; pileocystidia abundant, cylindric to subclavate, ochraceous-refractive in KOH and positive in sulphovanillin.
Russula queletii Look-Alikes
Larger with a very dark, almost black cap center and pale cream gills; its stem base is rusty brown.
Larger and more robust species, named for its distinctive seafood odor. It has a broader ecological range found under hardwood as well as conifers along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada. The cap is similar in color, but the blushed stipe yellows with handling turns grayish to black with FeSO4, and have a mild taste.
Found along the north coast in mixed hardwood-conifer woods. It has a reddish-brown to purple cap, also a pinkish-purple flushed stipe and acrid taste, but differs in possessing partially to completely reticulate spores.
As the name suggests, has a purple violet cap. It has a strong acrid taste, but a whitish stipe. Cohabiting with Russula queletii under pines and typically more abundant is Russula sanguinea. It sports a bright red to strawberry red cap that fades to pallid shades in age, a blushed reddish stipe, and a strong acrid taste.
Has a similar but paler cap color that shows an underlying cream-colored background even when fresh. A whitish stipe also helps to separate the two.
Russula queletii Taxonomy and Etymology
The Fruity Brittlegill mushroom was described in 1872 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who gave it its currently accepted scientific binomial name Russula queletii.
Synonyms of Russula queletii include Russula queletii var. flavovirens (J. Bommer & M. Rousseau) Maire, Russula flavovirens J. Bommer & M. Rousseau, and Russula drimeia var. queletii (Fr.) Rea
In the past, this brittlegill was included in a complex of species under the name Russula sardonia has lemon-yellow gills whereas Russula queletii has creamy-white gills.
Russula, the generic name, means red or reddish, and indeed many of the brittlegills have red caps.
The specific epithet queletii honors French mycologist Lucien Quélet.
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