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Around 750 worldwide species of mycorrhizal mushrooms compose the genus Russula. They are typically common, fairly large, and brightly colored - making them one of the most recognizable genera among mycologists and mushroom collectors. Their distinguishing characteristics include a white to dark yellow spore print, brittle free white gills, and an absence of partial veil or volva tissue on the stem. Members of the related Lactarius genus have similar characteristics but emit a milky latex when their gills are broken.
Additional recommended knowledge
Like the genus Lactarius, Russulas have a distinctive flesh consistency, which is also reflected in the appearance of the gills and stipe, and normally makes them immediately recognizable. They have no trace of a veil (no ring, nor patches on the cap). The gills are brittle except in a few cases, and cannot be bent parallel with the cap without breaking. The spore powder varies from white to cream, or even orange.
While it is relatively easy to identify a sample mushroom as belonging to this genus, it is a significant challenge to distinguish member species of Russula. This task often requires microscopic characters, and subtle subjective distinctions, such as the difference between a mild to bitter and a mild to acrid flavor. Moreover the exact phylogenetic relationships of these mushrooms have yet to be resolved in the professional mycological community, and may ultimately depend on DNA sequencing analysis.
The following characteristics are often important in identifying individual species:
Despite the difficulty in positively identifying collected specimens, the possibility to spot the toxic species by their acrid taste makes some of the mild species, such as R. cyanoxantha and R.. vesca, popular edible mushrooms. As far as is known, no species of Russula is deadly poisonous and mild-tasting ones are all edible.  Note that this rule applies only to Russulas and not to other types of mushrooms!
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Russula". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|