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Cortinarius delibutus Fr. - Yellow Webcap

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Cortinariaceae

Cortinarius delibutus

In the difficult Cortinarius group of fungi Cortinarius delibutus is distinguished by its sticky/slimy yellow cap and stem and bluish gills (when young).

Distribution

Cortinarius delibutus is fairly common in Britain and Ireland and is recorded also from many parts of mainland Europe.

Taxonomic history

In 1838 the famous Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described the Yellow Webcap and gave it the scientific name Cortinarius delibutus. This remains its generally-accepted scientific name.

Synonyms of Cortinarius delibutus include Cortinarius fulvoluteus Britzelm., Cortinarius naevosus Fr., Cortinarius suratus Fr., Gomphos delibutus (Fr.) Kuntze, Gomphos naevosus (Fr.) Kuntze, and Gomphos suratus (Fr.) Kuntze.

The vast genus Cortinarius is subdivided by many authorities into subgenera, and Cortinarius delibutus belongs to the subgenus Myxacium.

Etymology

The generic name Cortinarius is a reference to the partial veil or cortina (meaning a curtain) that covers the gills when caps are immature. In the genus Cortinarius most species produce partial veils in the form of a fine web of radial fibres connecting the stem to the rim of the cap.

The specific epithet delibutus means greasy.

Toxicity

Because several of the webcaps are known to be deadly poisonous (and some research even suggests that all Cortinarius species may contain at least small amounts of the toxins concerned), in our opinion webcaps should never be gathered for eating.

Identification guide

Mature cap of Cortinarius delibutus

Cap

The greasy (slimy when wet) hemispherical to convex yellow caps of Cortinarius delibutus are 3-6cm in diameter and eventually become flattened or even slightly depressed in the centre, but the margin remains inrolled or at least downturned. Flesh yellowish, with a faint bluish tinge in young specimens.

A short-lived yellowish cortina joins stem to cap rim of young fruitbodies, concealing the immature gills.

Gills of Cortinarius delibutus

Gills

Adnate, moderately spaced to distant; at first violet or bluish, becoming buff tinged with violet as the spores mature.

Stem

Finely fibrillose, 5-9cm long and 3-6mm in diameter, clavate or sometimes slightly bulbous at base; surface sticky (slimy in wet weather), covered with yellowish veil remnants that stain rust-brown once spores begin to fall.

Spores of Cortinarius delibutus

Basidia

Four-spored.

Spores

Ellipsoidal to subspherical; coarsely verrucose (with a roughened surface), 7-9.5 x 6-7µm.

Show larger image

Spore print

Rusty-brown.

Odour/taste

Odour not distinctive. Taste reported to be mild, but it is generally considered unwise to taste any Cortinarius species because several of them are deadly poisonous.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorrhizal, particularly with Beech and Birch but also occasionally in mixed woodland with Spruce.

Season

August to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar Species

Cortinarius triumphans is a larger yellow webcap with much longer spores.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Funga Nordica, Henning Knudsen and Jan Vesterholt, 2008.

British Mycological Society, English Names for Fungi

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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