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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Russula

by Danny Miller


Fetid Russulas – Ingratula


Russula cerolens

Our most common member is R. cerolens, mostly dark brown, often with an even darker center, <10 across. It’s found with spruce, pine, Doug fir, etc. and maybe some oaks too. We have been using the names R. sororia, R. pectinata and R. pectinatoides for this and possibly the following mushroom, but those European and eastern NA species have not appeared here yet. Some have reported R. granulata with red-brown granules on the cap, so please try and find one so I can figure out what it really is! I found that only Christine Roberts, in her PhD dissertation, recognized that R. cerolens might be one of the mushrooms in this clade found here.

R. cerolens © Ben Woo


Russla recondita group

Perhaps without a dark stain in the center, but you need a microscope to make sure you have one of these uncommon to rare mushrooms instead of R. cerolens (they can be distinguished as a group microscopically, but can’t be told apart). In 2016 Russula recondita was described from Europe giving me a name I can use for our three species that are very closely related to it. Two of the species have been studied microscopically by Anna Bazzicalupo and appear to have identical microscopy so we do not yet have any way to distinguish the three species from each other. R. sp. Woo 6 was found once in Portland near alder and hemlock. R. sp. “6a” was found once on the UBC campus under oak, photograph not yet obtained. This is the species referred to as “Russula recondita complex clade I” in the R. recondita paper. R. sp. “6b” was found once on Vancouver Island under Garry oak as well as in California (I am trying to determine under what trees). The paper used the name R. recondita only for the genetically similar sequences from Europe, leaving open the possibility that the somewhat genetically different species like our three could be unique species.


R. recondita group member sp. Woo 6 © Ben Woo, unfortunately showing that these species may have a dark center as well.

R. recondita group member “sp. 6b” © Christian Schwarz


Russula laurocerasi/fragrantissima/foetens group

We appear to have 3 or 4 species that are brighter yellow-brown and smell strongly sweet. They can get quite large (20cm)! I have listed the European names we’ve used for them, but all those names are wrong as our species seem to be all unnamed.

Two or three species have smaller spores and are usually noted for their specific almond or maraschino cherry odor, like R. fragrantissima and R. laurocerasi, which they are closely related to. The odor may also be unpleasantly sweet to some.

R. sp. Woo 3 was found in mixed live oak and conifers in California but also in Oregon, perhaps near Eugene. It is most closely related to R. laurocerasi (whose proper name may be R. grata).

R. sp. Woo 4 was found near Snoqualmie Pass WA, in Idaho with cedar, hemlock and maybe Doug fir, and somewhere in the Seattle area.

R. sp “4a” was found in the Olympics and near Mt. Rainier in Washington. It may or may not be a unique species, with 4 differences and 2 indels in ITS2 and only 1 difference and 1 indel in ITS1, but there’s not enough evidence yet to definitively separate it from sp. 4.  All these species have “wings” on the spore warts that sp. 5 does not possess. The spore size of sp. 3 is larger than those in sp. 4, but all have smaller spores than sp. 5.

R. sp. Woo 5 is NOT usually reported as having an almond or marashino cherry smell, but instead a more generically sweet odor. Its odor is typically reported as nauseating or sickeningly sweet like vomit, whereas more people seem to find the other two species’ odors more pleasant than this one. It has larger spores than the others. This species is more closely related to R. foetens, and its description very much matches that description. It has been found in the interior (the Blue Mountains of WA, in Idaho and in Northern BC). The nearby trees were not noted. This species has the largest spores.

R. laurocerasi group © Joy Spurr, showing the cool hollow diamonds most mushrooms in clade Ingratula I  have.

R. sp. Woo 3 © Ben Woo

R. sp. Woo 4 © Danny Miller, sp. Woo 4a © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History

R. sp. Woo 5 © Ben Woo

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