This genus contains many species which are distinguished by the rusty yellow colour of their spores and by the webby character of the veil. It is of the utmost importance in identifying species of Cortinarius to know the colour of the gills of the young plant, as the gills of the old plants are almost uniform in colour, owing to their being dusted with the rusty yellow spores. In addition, one should carefully note the colour of the young plant compared with the old; the surface, whether sticky or dry, smooth or hairy; the taste; and the markings left on the stem by the retreating veil. All species have their gills attached to the stem, and some have them notched at the stem end. They may be looked for along the borders of woods and groves in hilly regions, during the latter part of the summer.
Cortinarius alboviolaceus (See plate facing page 65).
Cap or Pileus - Lavender, paler in the centre. Surface with rusty spots. 2 1/2 inches broad. Gills or Lamella - Crowded, unequal, attached to the stem.
Stem or Stipe - Pale lavender, assuming a deeper shade when cut or bruised. Spongy in the centre, swollen toward the base. 3 inches long.
Veil - Filmy, stretching from stem to the margin of the cap in young plant.
Spores - Rusty brown.
Zoned Cortinarius (Corlinarius armillatus, A & S, Fr) Cap cinnamon-brown; gills paler than cap; stem light brown with fibrous zones of red. See Genus, p. 85.
Flesh - Tinged with violet.
Time - Autumn.
Habitat - Thick, damp woods.
C. violaceus differs from c. alboviolaceus in having the cap dark violet and usually covered with fibres.