Cortinarius rubellus

Deadly Webcap

Status:

Rare outside of Scotland and Cumbria but uncommon there.

From Cortina meaning 'curtains'  a reference to the web around the gills when young.

Cap:

3-8 cm

Stem:

4-9 cm

Meaning 'reddish'.

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Description

A mushroom that unless you are in the right area and habitat you are unlikely to encounter, indeed at the time of writing (2016) there are just over 100 records on the national database, but it can be quite numerous where it is found. As its name suggest it is deadly and the last known case of poisoning in the UK was in 1979 where it is said the people who ate it thought it was the Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius). 


This species is common in Northern Europe and the cases of poisonings of this species are on the rise, so great care must be taken in learning its identification so you know to avoid it. Symptoms of this mushroom can be delayed by up to two days, where flu like symptoms along with vomiting occur before total renal failure if left untreated.

Smell

Earthy or slightly of radish.

Season

July-October.

Habitat & Distribution

Usually found in coniferous woodland, frequently with Pine (Pinus) and Spruce (Picea). Often found in small groups and can be numerous, damp acid soil with moss are its typical haunts. More common in Cumbria and Scotland, rarer elsewhere. 

Edibility

Deadly Poisonous, one of the most toxic species in the UK and has known to kill people, it is attributed to a number of fatalities in Central and Northern Europe. No part of this mushroom should be eaten or tasted. The variation in the shape of speciems can be quite dramatic, some have very conical caps and some much flatter, this collection of mushrooms were all taken from the same small patch in North Wales.

Confusion Species

Spores 

Spore Print Colour

Rusty brown.

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This species has been confused with the edible Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) which is a very big mistake. Firstly Deadly Webcap does not have deccurent gills, it is not egg yellow and the gills are brown and real gills, not like the veins on the Chanterelle. 


The False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) is much more orange colour, though the colour can fade to yellow or even pale cream, but never usually brown, it has strongly decurrent gills too. 


The Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus) also has strongly decurrent gills and is generally larger, the edge of the cap also turns in at the margin. There are many other Cortinarius you could confuse this species and all Cortinarius should be avoided when picking mushrooms to eat. The 'snake-skin' type pattern on the stem, the colour of the cap and the shape of it is quite distinctive though.