Wednesday 8 June 2011

#56 Cortinarius archeri

Cortinarius is the largest genus of mushrooms in the world.  Cortinarius archeri is a spectacular species.

The most distinctive feature of Cortinarius is the presence of a cortina covering young gills.  A cortina is a partial veil consisting of a cobweb-like protective covering over the spore producing surface. The cortina disintegrates as the fruit body matures, leaving a ring-zone on the stem, or disappearing altogether. In some species, all evidence of the cortina disappears very quickly.

A secondary feature of Cortinarius is a rusty-brown spore print, therefore the fertile surface of mature Cortinarius are rusty brown.

A beautiful cluster of Cortinarius archeri
Cap: when young, the cap can cover the stem resembling a helmet, but widens to convex, eventually flattening to some degree, often turning under slightly. At first, the cap is viscid (slippery), but matures to dry and satiny, fading to a dirty mauve, often aging to brown. The cap can reach 100mm wide.

Stem: is broad, viscid when young, mauve to white with membranous remains of cortina high on stem, often stained rusty brown with spores.  The wide stem is usually bulbous at the base.

Gills: are of various lengths, mauve when young, staining rusty brown as spores mature.

Habitat: mixed forests of Australia (and possibly other countries), on soil, and is mychorrizal with eucalypts. Cortinarius archeri grows singly or in small tight clusters.

Toxicity: some species of Cortinarius are poisonous, containing the toxin orellanine, so it is unwise to consume any species of Cortinarius. At this time, I have no information either confirming or denying the toxicity of Cortinarius archeri.

Cortinarius archeri emerging from the soil - my thumbnail gives size comparison

A cluster of Cortinarius archeri like little soldiers lined up in their tin hats

The cobweb-like covering still intact covering the immature gills

Young mauve gills tinged with rusty-brown - remains of membranous material high on the stem has collected rusty-brown spores

Gills turn brown as they mature.  They will turn much darker yet.

A beautiful specimen of Cortinarius archeri

My sightings of Cortinarius archeri

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Freeman's Waterhole, NSW - mixed forest May 2011


Ken said...

I've been looking for these. When young and glutinous they can produce superb photos.

Flabmeister said...


I have seen a couple of examples of this species on the Monaro this year. The largest example was very large: I wrote it as 20cm high! It was well past its use by date!



Gaye said...

Hello Ken,

yes, they are glorious things. At this point, my photography is serving it's purpose for study and sharing in an educational manner, but when I see stunning images of fungi that others produce, I know I should become more serious with my photography. Good luck with your hunt.

Hello Martin, that's interesting because it would be colder down there than in the Hunter Valley. A 20cm specimen would certainly be a beauty to find in prime condition - we can only hope.

Thanks for the responses.


Keith said...

Beautiful indeed.

Gaye said...

Thank you Keith. I haven't found C. archeri up in the New England, but haven't spent a lot of time fungi hunting there. Do you see it?


wendy said...

I enjoyed reading this information. I was searching for details and identification of these little fungi, as we recently found a whole "community" of them growing in the bush reserve on our farm here in the southwest of Western Australia. My parents, as well as myself, have lived here all our lives, and I have walked this land and the forest daily with my camera, photographing and appreciating nature in all her forms. None of us have ever seen these beautiful purple mushrooms/fungi before. So we were intrigued. I have posted numerous images on facebook, but have even more behind the scenes.
Cheers again, thank you...

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye
I have just been asked to ID this species from a friend on Facebook.
I will refer him to your site, as you have better assortment of photos than the SFSG pages (event though some of their images are from you).
Fungi season is hotting up here, now.

Gaye said...

Hello Denis, thank you, and I'm happy to do what I can to help with identification from anyone. With the recent rain over eastern Australia I've had an influx of emails requesting identification of stinkhorns - they always produce such amazement from first time sights.

I got to go fungi hunting for the first time this season last weekend, and although fungi weren't prolific, there was plenty around to interest me (none of which I have yet positively identified yet).


Anonymous said...

Here is one I saw about 10 ,I mutes ago in the otway national forest, crazy looking...