Pictured are multiple specimens of Laccaria ochropurpurea, commonly known as the purple-gilled laccaria. Found in Arkansas and Virginia to demonstrate its broad distribution.
This species has a distinct shape and color that makes it easy for identification, although, it can be highly variable in height and color. The flesh is hearty, dense, and doesn’t stain with cutting or damage. The cap ranges in color from pale white/tan, to lilac, to silver and becomes waterlogged after rain. It can be smooth or lightly scaly and will usually have a central depression that becomes more pronounced with age. The stem is similar to the cap in coloration with a distinctive fibrous appearance that can sometimes resemble hair. It will usually have a bulbous swollen base, but can also be found elongated. The most unique characteristic is its surprisingly dark purple gills. They are always attached to the stem and are varying in spacing from close to moderate. Leaf litter will usually be dusted with their white spores if the specimen is older.
This species is mycorrhizal with conifers and hardwoods and is widely distributed throughout a variety of climates east of the Rocky Mountains.
Found from late summer to fall, sometimes persisting into winter depending on geographic location.
Has a very mild mushroomy taste, but typically takes on the flavor of whatever seasonings are being used. Best in dishes that are cooked for longer periods of time like soups or stews. Caps can also be sautéed as long as they are not too old. They have a texture that is almost “crunchy” when young, but tend to become tough with age. This species also holds up quite well with pickling.
This includes a few species in the Cortinarius genus, specifically Cortinarius alboviolaceus. The easiest way to tell them apart is to look at the gills. The Cortinarius genus has a defining webbing that covers the immature gill surface. The gills of C. alboviaceus turn rust brown as they age. The spore print is also an easy way to differentiate the species. L. ochropurpurea has a silver/white spore print while C. alboviaceus has a cinnamon/rust brown print.