Purple-red hygrophorus (Hygrophorus purpurascens)

KingdomFungi
PhylumBasidiomycota
ClassBasidiomycetes
OrderAgaricales
FamilyHygrophoraceae
GenusHygrophorus (1)
SizeCap diameter: 4 – 11 cm (2)
Stem (stipe) height: 2 – 9 cm (2)

Short-listed for inclusion in the Bern Convention by the European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF), and included on the Red Lists of 7 European countries (3).

The purple-red hygrophorus produces large white mushrooms, which are heavily marked with wine-red spots (4). The cap is broad and rounded; the margin may become upturned as the mushroom ages (2). The stem (or ‘stipe’) of the mushroom is round and solid, it is white and also develops red markings with age (4).

WARNING: many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.

This fungus is known from South East Asia, North America and Europe, where it is extremely rare. A different variety also occurs in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco (4).

Purple-red hygrophorus is associated with the spruce Picea alba, and is often recorded from pastures where there are scattered trees (4).

The mushroom-like fruiting bodies are produced between June and October (4); these often appear in clusters and are partially buried in the soil (2). This fungus forms a mycorrhizal relationship with the spruce Picea alba and is therefore associated with the tree’s root system (4).

Fungi are an enormous group of organisms that are so distinctive from both plants and animals that they are placed in their own kingdom. The main body of the fungus is composed of a multitude of microscopic threads (known as ‘hyphae’) which are located within the substrate (5). The fruiting body (such as the more familiar toadstool or mushroom) is produced to release spores and thus allows reproduction to occur. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings.

The disturbance of pastureland through more aggressive agricultural practices poses a threat to this particular species of fungi (4).

Protection of purple-red hygrophorus habitat may be achieved by the continuation of traditional forms of land management rather than the application of fertilisers or the disturbance of soil (4). This fungus is also a candidate species for listing in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Bern Convention (3) (6).

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. National Biodiversity Network, Species Dictionary (July, 2003) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Mykoweb (July, 2003) http://www.mykoweb.com
  3. The distribution, status and habitat requirement of the 33 fungal candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Bern Convention. (June, 2003) http://www.artdata.slu.se/Bern_Fungi/Bern_Fungi.htm
  4. European Council for Conservation of Fungi (ECCF) (2001) Datasheets of threatened mushrooms of Europe, candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Convention. Bern Convention Standing Committee. http://www.nature.coe.int/CP21/tpvs34e.htm
  5. Pegler, D. & Spooner, B. (1992) The Mushroom Identifier. Apple Press, London.
  6. Bern Convention (June, 2003) http://www.nature.coe.int/english/cadres/bern.htm