E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Russula emetica
the sickener

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Curtis Bjork  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25251)

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Distribution of Russula emetica
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Species Information

{See also Red Russulas Table.} Clade Russula core. This is a very common species in BC. Distinguishing features are 1) medium to large size, 2) a strong to moderate red or reddish orange to deep pink or yellow-toned cap, 3) a strongly peppery taste, 4) growth usually on Sphagnum, 5) large spores, and 6) commonly multiseptate dermatopseudocystidia on the cap and stem, (Shaffer). |DNA study shows it to be more common than previously thought and many of Ben Woo''s collections are this species: most of the collections have predominantly yellowish or red tones (Bazzicalupo(2), Fig 2.3). It is open to question whether it is "usually" found with Sphagnum. According to D. Miller, pers. comm., many other similar species exist in the Pacific Northwest. |Thiers lists for California the similar species, Russula silvicola Shaffer (listed also by Jumpponen for Washington and C. Roberts for BC), but does not list R. emetica: "Until recently R. silvicola was frequently misidentified as R. emetica.". Shaffer (below) says that the stem, though sometimes colored grayish yellow basally, does not change when injured, but note should be made here of R. emetica var. griseascens described in 1975 and elevated to species status in 1984 by Marti, characterized by graying of the stem by age, trauma or handling (Voitk).

There are many sequenced collections among Ben Woo''s collections (WA, OR, ID). R. emetica is included in Pacific Northwest key of Woo(1) ("tends to be rare in our area"), and its presence in Pacific Northwest is implied by its inclusion in Ammirati(1). It has been reported from British Columbia by (Bandoni(1) and Davidson(1)). There are collections from BC at the University of British Columbia. There are collections at the University of Washington from WAS, OR, and AK. Grund reported one collection from WA. Shaffer examined collections from MI and MN. It is also found in Europe.
6-9cm across, "scarlet pink, light blood red, sometimes paling to white"; "viscid, shining when dry, margin grooved, easily peeling", (Woo), 2.5-8.5cm across, when young cushion-shaped with incurved margin, becoming convex to flat-convex with a depressed disc and eventually irregularly concave or somewhat funnel-shaped, somewhat umbonate or not; "strong, vivid, or moderate red, strong to deep reddish orange, or less commonly deep pink, occasionally spotted deep red centrally", sometimes partly colored also with moderate to pale orange yellow to moderate orange; viscid, bald, rugulose [wrinkled] outward from disc or not, sometimes minutely areolate [cracked like dried mud] when old, not striate when young but becoming tuberculate-striate 0.2-0.7cm from edge inward, cap skin thin, easily separable 1/2-2/3 of radius, (Shaffer)
white, pink under cap skin, (Woo), moderately thick ( 0.4-0.9cm thick at disc), soft-brittle; sometimes tinged red just beneath cap skin, otherwise white, (Shaffer)
creamy (Woo), adnexed to adnate or sometimes sinuate, close, unequal, the subgills rare and of various lengths, gills moderately broad, 0.3-0.8cm broad, rounded near cap margin, occasionally forked near stem, fragile, interveined; yellowish white, unchanging when injured; edges entire, (Shaffer), "broad; pure white to pale cream", (Phillips), adnate to adnexed or free (Arora for emetica group)
white tending to yellow, (Woo), 4.5-10.5cm x 0.7-2.4cm, flared at top, elsewhere widening to base, or rarely narrowing at very base, stuffed at first, becoming partly hollow; "white to yellowish white, sometimes discolored grayish yellow basally, but not changing when injured"; dry, dull, longitudinally rugulose [wrinkled], (Shaffer), equal or wider below, (Arora for R. emetica group)
slightly fruity (Woo), with a Lycoperdon like odor (Shaffer), fruity (Phillips), mild (Arora for emetica group)
very peppery (Woo, Shaffer, Phillips)
Microscopic spores:
spores 9-10 x 7-8 microns, ornamentation Patterson-Woo type C-2, E-2, (Woo), spores 8.0-11.3 x 6.7-9.0 microns, elliptic to obovate, often broadly so, ornamentation "of cylindric to conic, occasionally partially nonamyloid warts and spines up to 0.7-1.7 microns high, sometimes a few ridges or lines of catenulate warts, and usually numerous connectives", usually forming a partial or complete reticulum; basidia 4-spored, 34-40 x 9.0-13.6 microns, clavate; hymenial pseudocystidia abundant, 37-80 x 7.2-15.3 microns, "subcylindric to clavate, fusoid-clavate, or subfusiform", "often mucronate, capitate, or short-appendiculate, otherwise rounded to acute or sometimes extruded-inflated apically", SV+, arising at various levels in subhymenium or outer trama, projecting up to 34 microns beyond basidioles on gill faces, sometimes farther on gill edges, cheiloleptocystidia when present, 11-22 x 2.0-7.5 microns, subcylindric to clavate, rarely branched, colorless, common; cap epicutis 80-160 microns thick (subcutis 60-200 microns thick), with a gelatinous matrix, a trichoderm of non-gelatinous to slightly gelatinous, usually branched connective hyphal ends 0.7-3.4 microns wide, and numerous pseudocystidia that are 25-220 x 4.0-9.0 microns, "subcylindric to clavate, rarely branched, usually 1-10-septate, and SV+ and which originate in the epicutis or subcutis"; septa of pseudocystidia on cap and stem are more easily seen in sections mounted in SV and may be overlooked in KOH or water, (Shaffer, using Greek mu for "microns")
Spore deposit:
white, Crawshay A, (Woo), yellowish white to almost white, never as dark as Romagnesi 1b, (Shaffer), white, Crawshay A, (Phillips)

Habitat / Range

mossy, swampy woods (Woo), single, scattered, gregarious, or rarely cespitose [in tufts], usually on Sphagnum, rarely on very rotten wood or humus, often in boggy areas of coniferous or hardwood-coniferous woods, (Shaffer), in swampy conifer woods, July to October, (Phillips), summer, fall, (Bacon)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Russula silvicola Shaffer (misapplied name)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Genetic information (NCBI Taxonomy Database)
Taxonomic Information from the World Flora Online
Index Fungorium
Taxonomic reference: Nat. Arr. Brit. Pl. 1: 618. 1821; Russula silvicola Shaffer (misapplied name)

Additional Range and Status Information Links


poisonous, may cause vomiting, parboiling may destroy toxins, (Arora for emetica group)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Shaffer(6), Woo(1), Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Lincoff(1)*, Ammirati(1)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, Arora(1), Barron(1)*, Miller(14)*, Bandoni(1), Davidson(1), Thiers(3) (not listing species for California), Jumpponen(1) (discussing R. silvicola), Roberts, C.(2) (discussing R. silvicola), Bacon(1)*, AroraPocket*, Buczacki(1)*, Voitk(3), Bazzicalupo(2)

References for the fungi

General References