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Russula mushrooms are a popular wild edible the world over. One of the reasons for this is because that while there are both poisonous and choice Russulas, none are deadly, and the choice ones can be identified by a simple taste test in the field.
They come in all colors. They have a characteristic cap shape, and stem shape. The stem shape is the dead giveaway in identifying them at a glance. They also have brittle gills (they do not bend), and a fairly firm stem that will snap when bent, IF the mushroom is in good condition. If it is older and bugs have burrowed into the stem and hollowed it out, it may not pass that test though! The cap and gills will still snap though, and the colored layer of the cap will always peel loose, at least partway in to the center.
After rains, these mushrooms have a fairly thick and slimy goo on the top, that picks up every bit of dirt and litter that gets near them. When dry, they have a tacky cap, which will still pick up debris, but which is much easier to clean.
They like spring and fall weather, right after rains.
This is a light yellow Russula, and you can see that it was picked after rains. It is shiny wet looking.
This Russula is actually a dark plum-red. The colors do not show well in the image. It is drier than the Yellow Russula shown above, and the cap is now tacky to the touch.
The test for edibility for Russulas is to taste a bit. If it is acrid (hot), or bitter, throw it away. If it has a bland, sweet, or undetectible taste, then it is good.
Russulas are mycorrhizal with various trees - requiring specific trees to grow. The trees vary with the Russula variety. They may also be dependent on other variables.
They have not been grown in containment, but spawn is available for several varieties through our Mushroom Store, along with instructions for cultivation in the wild.