Common / safe
|gills on hymenium|
cap is convexor flat
hymenium is adnateor decurrent
|stipe is bare|
|spore print is white|
|ecology is mycorrhizal|
Laccaria laccata, commonly known as the deceiver, or waxy laccaria, is a white-spored species of small edible mushroom found throughout North America and Europe. It is a highly variable mushroom (hence “deceiver”), and can look quite washed out, colorless and drab, but when younger it often assumes red, pinkish brown, and orange tones. The species is often considered by mushroom collectors to be a “mushroom weed” because of its abundance and plain stature.
The deceiver was first described by Tyrolian naturalist Giovanni Antonio Scopoli in 1772 as Agaricus laccatus, before being given its current binomial name by Mordecai Cubitt Cooke in 1884. The specific epithet is derived from the Latin adjective laccatus “varnished” or “shining”. Clitocybe laccata is an old alternative name. Var. pallidifolia, described by Charles Horton Peck, is the commonest variety found in North America.
The deceiver gets its common name from its variable appearance. Other names include lacklustre laccaria, and, by the Zapotec people, Beshia ladhi biinii (also the name of other members of Laccaria).
The deceiver is a small mushroom with a cap up to 6 cm (2.4 in) in diameter, convex when young and later flattening or even depressed in the center. It can be various shades of salmon pink, brick-red, or shades of orange or brown when moist or young, and duller and paler when dry. The fibrous stipe is 5–10 cm (2–4 in) high and 0.6–1 cm wide. The irregular gills are widely spaced and decurrent or adnexed, and of similar color to the cap, though whiten with spores as the mushroom matures. The spore print is white, and the round spiny spores are 7–10 μm in diameter. The flesh is thin and has little taste.
Formerly considered a subspecies by French mycologist René Maire, the close deceiver (Laccaria proxima) is a European relative with a fine scaly cap and found in wetter habitats. Microscopically, its spores are narrower and more oval-shaped.
Distribution and habitat
Laccaria laccata is found in scattered troops in wooded areas, and on heathland often in poor soil. It is very common in all of the northern temperate zones, but tends to favor cool weather. L. laccata is mycorrhizal with several types of trees, including members of the Pinaceae (Pines), Fagaceae (Beech), and Betulaceae (Birch). It is found across Europe and North America, south into Mexico and Costa Rica. Laccaria species are mycorrhizal, and thought by some to be pioneer species.
Although small, the deceiver is edible and mild-tasting. However, it is important to distinguish it from potentially lethal small brown mushrooms. It is one of many mushrooms traditionally eaten by the Zapotec people of Oaxaca in Mexico.
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