Cap: 2-7cm across Stem: 2-6cm in length, 3-8mm diameter
from Persian meaning 'painted'
meaning amethyst coloured
Gills: The gills are widely spaced for such a small mushroom, sometimes forked and are interlocked with shorter gills coming from the cap edge inwards. The colour of the gills does not change as much as the cap, and even in very dry or very wet weather the purple gills remain a key feature.
OVERALL: Here at Discover the Wild we only teach people about good to eat and easy to identify species and this one is no exception. To most the idea of picking and eating a psychedilic looking purple mushroom would not be a wise one, but actually this little mushroom is a good one for beginners, being tasty and easy to identify. Whilst only being small, when you find one you can usually find many, in fact one of the woodlands local to us had around 10,000 fruiting bodies in a small woodland in 2013, so finding a few to pick should not be an issue. The ‘deceiver’ part of the name comes from the fact it can change colour depending on if it is dry (then it goes pale, almost white) or when it is wet (dark and more brown). The gills and stem however usually stay the same colour though. There are a number of other ‘deceivers’ but they are usually pink or fleshy coloured, the only other to have a tinge of purple (at the base only) is the Bicoloured Deceiver (Laccaria bicolor)
HABITAT: Usually found in Oak (Quercus) and Beech (Fagus) woodland.
DISTRIBUTION: Very Common over all the UK, a typical species to find in any woodland that contans Oak (Quercus) and Beech (Fagus).
SEASON: Generally late summer to autumn but in mild winters can be found right into the new year.
EDIBILITY: 3/5, the caps are better than the quite tough stems, you can easily collect all you need and not make a dint on the overall population in some areas are it can be prolific.
EASE OF IDENTIFICATION: 3/5, when you see this species fresh it is hard to mis-identify it, it does go pale when dry and darker with age and when wet and this extremes can make this species live up to the 'deceiver' part of its name.
SMELL: Not distinctive.
SPORE PRINT: White
SIMILAR SPECIES: There are very few small purple mushrooms, some members of the cortinarius family have a purple tinge, but not on the scale of the Amethyst Deceiver, the cortinarius family also have ginger spores and the gills are usually tinged ginger, a quick way to test is to leave the mushroom on a white piece of paper (cut the stem off and place the cap down so the gills are nearest the paper) and after a few hours you will get a spore print and can see if it is ginger, if it is leave it alone. The Lilac Fibrecap (Inocybe geophylla var lilacina) is another similar species but close inspection should reveal it to be paler overall without the purpley gills.
Against a green mossy woodland floor they stick out from some distance, but on leaf litter they can be surprisingly well camoflagued.
Cap: can be up to 6cm across, when fresh it is a lovely vivid amethyst colour and is hard to confuse with any other 'common' mushroom, when dry it can almost become white and when wet becomes dark purple, somethimes browny - hence the deceiver part to the name.
Overall: Once considered just a colour form of the Deceiver (Laccaria laccata), this mushroom is one of the most colourful you will come across in the woodland. Growing to around 8cm. When fresh it is unmistakable but it can change colour to very pale when dry and very dark when wet.
Flesh: usually the same colour as the rest of the mushroom, purple when fresh and at its best but sometimes white if the whole mushroom is dry and browner when soggy and going over.
Stem: tough and fibrous, when fresh often the same colour as the cap but begins to fade paler as it matures. The base of the stem is often 'furry' and often fuses leaf litter to it.