Russula variata

Russula variata

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  • Description
  • Habitat
  • Edibility
  • Similar Species
  • Preserving (Drying or Freezing)
  • Recipe Suggestions
  • References

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Russula variata has a cap that is usually mottled with greens and purplish pinks–though a single color can sometimes dominate completely. It is found under oaks and other hardwoods, primarily in eastern North America, and it features repeatedly forked, soft gills as well as a white spore print. The taste ranges from mild to somewhat acrid. 

Cap: 5-15 cm; round to convex when young, becoming broadly convex to flat or shallowly depressed; dry or slightly moist; fairly smooth, or sometimes becoming cracked with age; green to olive green or purplish pink–or with these and other shades mottled; the margin sometimes slightly lined in older specimens; the skin peeling fairly easily, sometimes halfway to the center.

Gills: Attached or slightly running down the stem; close or crowded; forking frequently and conspicuously, near the stem, near the cap margin, and in-between (enlarge the illustration for an example); white; occasionally spotting slightly brownish in age, but not bruising; when young soft, greasy, and flexible (un-Russula-like in this regard).

Stem: 3-10 cm long; 1-3 cm thick; white, occasionally discoloring brownish in places but not actually bruising; brittle; dry; often becoming cavernous; fairly smooth.

Flesh: White; brittle; thick.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste mild or, more frequently, slowly moderately acrid (be sure to include the gills in a taste test), becoming mild with age.

Chemical Reactions: KOH on cap surface negative to orangish. Iron salts on flesh and stem surface negative.

Spore Print: White.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods, especially oaks–but occasionally reported (perhaps erroneously) under conifers; growing alone or gregariously; summer and fall; possibly widely distributed, but more frequently encountered in eastern North America.



Similar Species:

Russula cyanoxantha is very similar, but has gills that fork less frequently and a consistently mild, rather than acrid, taste. The two mushrooms are so similar that some mycologists have considered Russula variata to be merely a variety of Russula cyanoxantha.

Preserving (Drying or Freezing):

They are great dried and used in soups but fresh is fine too…

Recipe Suggestions:

Recipes for  russula, or where they can be easily substituted.