Monday, July 27, 2009

Red Russula (Russula sp.)

Season: June-October
Edibility: Varied- but probably won't taste good, almost impossible to ID, and may be poisonous. Why bother?

As I mentioned in a post about another Russula, these buggers are almost omnipresent, not safe to eat (unless you are incredibly good with your Russula taxonomy) and you're going to find far more of them than what you are searching for. This has led to them being referred to as JAR's (just another Russula). There are probably at least 2-3 red Russula species in the area- and possibly many more. For my purposes I shall call them all Red Russulas.
Thus far in 2009 the chestnut bolete has been the only edible I have found (and only 4 of them at that), and I have probably seen 200 Russula's with bright red caps. Identifying features include a fairly dry cap, generally brittle, and a bright red cap. The stems of most of the red JARs I have found have been fairly pure white. They are normally 1-3 inches wide and sit just a couple inches tall.

The only similar mushroom I have found is a milky cap species that has a similar red cap. The milky caps are named thus because if you draw your finger across their gills they will exude a milky latex in quite copious quantities.

Happy hunting and let me know if you figure out how to tell the various species apart!