in Quélet, Mém. Soc. Émul. Montbéliard, Sér. 2 5: 185. 1872.
Common Name: none
Synonym: Russula sardonia f. queletii (Fr.) Singer
Cap 40-70 (100) mm broad, hemispheric at first, becoming convex, plano-convex in age, sometimes shallowly depressed with or without a low umbo; margin incurved, becoming decurved to level in age, edge striate; surface glabrous, subviscid when moist, dark vinaceous purple at disc, lighter towards margin, in age or with weathering developing pallid and pinkish areas; cuticle peelable a short distance from the margin; context white, unchanging, soft, 5-10 mm in width near the disc; odor indistinct; taste weak to moderately acrid.
Gills adnate, adnexed, to subdecurrent, close, relatively broad, 5-10 mm in width, white becoming cream-colored, occasionally forked at the stipe, edges even; lamellulae infrequent, when present in one to two series.
Stipe 20-70 (80) x 15-25 mm in width, straight, round, solid, brittle, equal to slightly enlarged below; surface pruinose at apex, elsewhere faintly wrinkled; color variable: entirely pinkish-vinaceous or whitish with pinkish-vinaceous blushes, the base sometimes yellowish-buff; context white, unchanging; partial veil absent.
Spores 6.5-9 x 6-7.5 µm including ornamentation, globose to ellipsoid, warted with short, broken lines, not reticulate; ornamentation amyloid; spores cream in deposit.
Gregarious under pines, especially Monterey pine (Pinus radiata); also in mixed hardwood-conifer woods along the coast where it has been reported under Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii); fruiting from late fall to mid-winter; fairly common.
Russula queletii is recognized in the San Francisco Bay Area by a cap that is dark vinaceous purple to almost blackish at the disc when young, fading in age to vinaceous purple with a paler margin. Cream-colored gills in age, a stipe that is usually flushed pinkish purple, a weak to moderately acrid taste, and cream-colored, non-reticulate spores also help to define the species. As is true of several California Russulas with European names, it is unclear whether our local version is in fact the same. Further study is needed to determine its taxonomic status. Complicating matters are a number of reddish purple-capped Russulas that occur in the state. Of these, the most conspicuous is Russula xerampelina, the “shrimp Russula,” a larger and more robust species, named for its distinctive seafood odor. It has a broader ecological range found under hardwood as well as conifers along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada. The cap is similar in color, but the blushed stipe yellows with handling, turns greyish to black with FeSO4, and has a mild taste. Another look-alike, Russula placita is found along the north coast in mixed hardwood-conifer woods. It has a reddish brown to purple cap, also a pinkish-purple flushed stipe and acrid taste, but differs in possessing partially to completely reticulate spores. Russula atroviolacea, as the name suggests, has a purple violet cap. It has a strong acrid taste, but a whitish stipe. Cohabiting with Russula queletii under pines and typically more abundant is Russula sanguinea. It sports a bright red to strawberry red cap that fades to pallid shades in age, a blushed reddish stipe, and a strong acrid taste. Less common but also found in this habitat is Russula californiensis. A look-alike of Russula sanguinea and sometimes confused with it, it has a similar but paler cap color that shows an underlying cream-colored background even when fresh. A whitish stipe also helps to separate the two.
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Knudsen, H. & Vesterholt, J. ed. (2012). Funga Nordica: Agaricoid, boletoid, clavarioid, cyphelloid and gastroid genera. Vol. 1. Nordsvamp: Copenhagen, Denmark. 511 p.
Murrill, W.A. (1907). North American Flora: (Agaricales) Polyporaceae-Agaricaceae. 9(4): 201-296.
Thiers, H.D. (1997). The Agaricales (Gilled Fungi) of California. 9. Russulaceae I. Russula. Mad River Press: Eureka, CA. 158 p.