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Cortinarius Species Fruiting

8-30-17 purple mushroom 049A3512

This slimy, purple mushroom belongs to the genus Cortinarius, the largest genus of mushrooms in the world. Mushrooms in this genus have partial veils, or cortinas – tissue that covers and protects the spore-producing gills, and they also have a rusty brown spore print and mature gills.

While it is relatively simple to determine that a mushroom is in this genus, identifying one down to species can be difficult. Two identical-looking species, C. iodes and C. iodeoides, can be found in the Northeast – both are purple and have slimy caps. Mycologists distinguish them by the size of their spores. For those more daring than I, there is a licking/taste test — the slime on C. iodeoides is said to be more bitter tasting than that of C. iodes.

Both species are mycorrhizal with oaks, in that both benefit from an association with each other. The mushroom helps the tree absorb water and nutrients while the tree provides sugars and amino acids to the mushroom. It is estimated that about 85% of plants depend on mycorrhizal relationships with fungi.

6 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    I wonder where it gets it’s beautiful purple color?! The relationships between plants is so amazing…what a wondeful planet we live on!

    August 29, 2017 at 9:03 am

  2. Gaylee Amend

    What an incredible photo! Thank you as ever for the joys and information you share. GA

    August 29, 2017 at 9:23 am

  3. Libby Hillhouse

    Are either edible? I remember a collector serving a mushroom that was supposed to taste like bacon and was, as I recall, purple. I felt slightly woozy after eating it, so I’ve been curious about it’s properties……and determined never to eat one again….

    August 29, 2017 at 10:43 am

    • Hi Libby,
      I know C. iodes is supposedly edible, but it’s advised that you not eat it…

      August 29, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      • Libby Hillhouse

        Good info….thanks….very few that I’ve talked to about this have even heard of it! Maybe thats a sign, eh?

        September 1, 2017 at 8:19 am

  4. Robin Snyder-Drummond

    HI Mary, if one tastes bitter, does the other taste better? One of my roommates decades ago was a mycologist. She found interesting fungi in places I’d never know to look. And they were all delicious.

    August 30, 2017 at 8:46 pm

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