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Cortinarius species 02

[Basidiomycetes > Agaricales > Cortinariaceae > Cortinarius ... ]

by Michael Kuo

Part of the hardwood-loving Cortinarius caerulescens species group, this attractive Cortinarius appears in summer in the forests of central Illinois, apparently in association with hickories. Like the European species Cortinarius caerulescens (first described in 1744 from Germany) it features purple colors, a bulbous stem base, and copious white to yellowish universal veil material on the cap and stem base. But unlike Cortinarius caerulescens, Cortinarius moënne-loccozii, Cortinarius velicopia, or other similar species from Europe and North America, the Illinois mushroom features broadly ellipsoid to nearly round spores, and a pungent, foul odor.

For the most contemporary accounting of the European species in the caerulescens group, see Knudsen & Vesterholt (2008). North American species in the complex come primarily from Kauffman (1918), including Cortinarius velicopia and, potentially, Cortinarius michiganensis and Cortinarius aggregatus. I say "potentially" because Kauffman's keys and descriptions are a bit confusing and contradictory on several important points (cap colors, gill coloring, universal veils, microscopic features); contemporary study of his type collections is needed.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hickories; growing gregariously; July and August; central Illinois.

Cap: 4-12 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex or nearly flat; sticky when fresh but soon dry; silky; pale metallic purple to lilac under a yellowish to pale tan universal veil; eventually becoming mottled brownish overall, or brownish with a purplish margin.

Gills: Attached to the stem; close or nearly crowded; pale purple, becoming rusty brown.

Stem: 4-12 cm long; up to 2 cm thick at the apex; tapering above a somewhat rimmed basal bulb; dry; silky; purplish; with a rusty ring zone above when mature; universal veil whitish to yellowish, sheathing the bulb and sometimes the lower stem.

Flesh: Whitish or purplish (especially in the stem); slowly yellowing in the stem base when sliced.

Odor: Pungent; foul (reminiscent of the "phenolic" odor of Agaricus xanthodermus).

Chemical Reactions: 10% KOH negative to pinkish on cap surface. 15% KOH on bulb of dried specimens reddish brown to brownish red.

Spore Print: Rusty brown.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7-10 x 6-7 µ; broadly ellipsoid to subglobose; moderately to strongly verrucose. Cheilo- and pleurocystidia absent. Pileipellis an ixocutis of hyaline to ochraceous, clamped elements about 5 µ wide.

REFERENCES: Herb. Kuo 08230601, 08250603, 07070714.

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Cortinarius species 02

Cortinarius species 02

Cortinarius species 02

Cortinarius species 02

Cortinarius species 02

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Kuo, M. (2012, January). Cortinarius species 02. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: