This section is from the book "Our Edible Toadstools and Mushrooms and How to Distinguish Them", by W. Hamilton Gibson. Also available from Amazon: Our Edible Toadstools And Mushrooms And How To Distinguish Them.
This, perhaps the most common species, is figured in Plate 12, fig. 3. It corresponds with the foregoing in size as well as in general shape, firm texture, and friable nature of the gills. The pileus of this species frequently assumes eccentric shapes, or is often cracked, as seen in the accompanying cut. Its name of "purple" is probably local in its application, as it is known also as the red Russula, neither of which titles is at all distinctive. Indeed, the color of the cap is often a misleading character for identification, as a given species may vary greatly in this particular. This feature is thus generally omitted in purely scientific descriptions, more dependence being placed upon the tint of the flesh and that of the spore surface, the laminae or gills, which are more permanent and reliable as a character. Thus, in the present species, Russula lepida, the tint of the pileus or cap is often of a deep dull purplish red or ruddy wine color. Another authority describes it as violet-red and cherry-red or slightly tawny, paler at circumference. Berkeley, in his British Fungi, omits any reference to the color of the cap, as evidently of little value in identification. But from numerous examples gathered by the present writer, the color may, I think, be safely averaged under the general hue of dark, subdued red inclining to maroon. The surface is dull, as with a fine dust or plum-like bloom, and thus without polish. Occasional specimens appear almost velvety in the sheen of surface. But the tints of the flesh and the gills are always uniform, the leaflets or gills being pure white or very slightly creamy, continuous from stem to rim or occasionally forked, not crowded, curved in outline in open specimen, with broadest width near the circumference of cap. The flesh is white or slightly creamy, firm and compact as in the former species, with the same variations of outline from early stage to maturity. The stem is white, solid, and generally more or less tinted or streaked vertically with rose or pale crimson (Fig. 8). The taste of the flesh is sweet and appetizing.
Russula Lepida - Contorted And Cracked Pileus
Color of cap misleading. Specific characters
1. Russula heterophylla - Variable Russula
Pileus: Firm, solid; greenish or pinkish-gray; at first convex, with flat top, ultimately rising from centre to rim.
Gills: Milk-white; extremely brittle, like all the Russulae, and easily crumbled (see Fig. 7); long, short, and forked intermixed. Fig. 5.
Stem: Milk-white; solid.
Taste: Mild and sweet.
2. Russula alutacea - Yellow-gilled Russula
Pileus: Firm, solid; shape as in above; color very variable, from bright to deep red; cuticle thin at rim, where the lines of junction of gills are readily discernible from above by the depressed channels. Fig. 6.
Gills: Equal, brittle, broad; yellow-buff color in all stages. Fig. 4.
Stem: Solid; milk-white, commonly stained or streaked with red towards the base.
Taste: Sweet and nut-like.
3. Russula lepida - Purple Russula
Pileus: In shape like above, varying in color from bright red to dull, subdued purplish, with a distinct bloom.
Gills: White, broad, principally even, occasionally forked as in Fig. 1; like the above, extremely brittle. Fig. 7.
Stem: Solid; white, usually stained and streaked with pink. Fig. 8.
Taste: Sweet, and similar to above.
Average diameter of extended pileus of each of these species about three and one-half inches; veil absent in each. Habitat: All grow in woods - July-September.
Plate XII. Edible Russulae. Russula Heterophylla. RussulaAlutacea. Russula Lepida.