Charcoal Burner

Russula cyanoxantha

meaning depressed or sloping head

meaning fragrant

Gills: start white but become more cream coloured with age, often with a slight greenish  / blueish cast. Rather crowded for the overall size of the mushroom. Very brittle to the touch.

Cap: usually always slightly slug eaten or nibbled, begins rounded and becomes flatter with age. Red/pink colour which can fade in heavy rain. The cap peels at the edge revealing a pinkish flesh underneath.

Overall: one of the many pink/red coloured Russula, the Beechwood Sickner is poisonous and should not be tasted. Often nibbled and slug eaten. Found with Beech (Fagus) trees where it can be rather common.

Flesh: white through out, sometimes with a slightly pink flush under the top of the cap. Slight smell when young of coconut, but often not distinctive, especially when older.

Stem: white, we have never noticed any tints of pink on the stem either, which other similar species may have. Firm and robust  which is notable for pink/red capped species of Russula.

OVERALL: A commonly encountered poisonous Brittlegill (Russula) species when walking through a Beech (Fagus) wood. There are many pink/red species of Brittlegill which we advise to avoid all of them for culinary purposes, unless you are very experienced in Brittlegill identification. Still retains the 'brittle gills' but has a much more robust stem than other pink/red species. 


HABITAT: grows with Beech (Fagus) trees.


DISTRIBUTION: found across the UK where it is relatively Common where Beech (Fagus) occurs.


SEASON: late summer to autumn.




EDIBILITY: Poisonous, no part of this mushroom should be eaten. This species has been known to cause vomiting, diarrhoea and severe stomach cramps. 


EASE OF IDENTIFICATION: Brittlegills (Russulas) are difficult to identify, the Beechwood Sickner has a totally white coloured stem (other pink brittlegills usually have tints of other colour but not all), pink/red cap and growing with Beech (Fagus) should all help point towards this species, but there are many similar brittlegills it can look like, we advise against picking ANY red/pink capped Brittlegills for eating because of this.


SMELL: slightly of coconut when very fresh and young, otherwise not distinctive. 


SIMILAR SPECIES: The Sickner (Russula emetica) is just as poisonous and looks very similar, but grows with Pine (Pinus) rather than Beech (Fagus). 


CURRENT SCIENTIFIC NAME: Russula nobilis Velen.


SYNOYNMS: Russula mairei Singer, Russula mairei var. fageticola Romagn. Russula fageticola Melzer ex S. Lundell.

Tel. 07533 132 129 


Manchester, Cheshire, Deeside & North Wales

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