Cortinarius violaceus

The violet webcap, Cortinarius violaceus (L.) Gray.

Classification

Kingdom Fungi
Phylum Basidiomycota
Class Basidiomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Cortinariaceae
Genus Cortinarius

Synonyms

Agaricus violaceus L.

Common names

Violet cort
Violet webcap
Dunkelvioletter Schleierling (German)

Description

Cap: 5-12 cm diameter, fleshy, rounded then flattened and bluntly umbonate, sometimes campanulate, dark violet, with rather wooly down becoming cracked into scales, margin at first incurved.
Stem: up to 10-12 cm long and 2.5 cm thick, dark violet color, thickened below into a bulb, fibrous and somewhat scaly with darker fibrils.
Gills: dark violet at first then flushed with the rust-brown spores, adnate then sometimes separating, broad, firm, rather distant and connected by veins. The gill edge consists of violet-colored, flask-shaped cystidia.
Flesh: bluish-violet or purple, darker in the stem, firm.
Spore print:  rust-brown.
Odor: smells slightly of cedarwood; no distinguishing taste.
Spores: yellow-brown, elliptical or pip-shaped, warted, 12-14 x 7-8 µm.

Cortinarius violaceus Spores
Spores from the medicinal mushroom Cortinarius violaceus

Habitat: found on the ground in woods, especially under birch and pine. Autumn.

The rich color of the violet webcap is due to an ink which consists of Fe(III) ions and the amino acid β-dopa (Nussbaum et al., 1998).

B-dopa
The amino acid β-dopa from the medicinal mushroom Cortinarius violaceus

Medicinal properties

Antitumor effects

Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of C. violaceus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 100% and 90%, respectively (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).

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Medicinal Mushrooms

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Links

Go here for an interesting discussion on the difficulties of positively identifying specimens with only the photograph and lacking proper field notes :)

References

Nussbaum F, Spiteller P, Rueth M, Steglich, Wanner WB, Gamblin B, Stievano L, Wagner FE.
An iron(III)-catechol complex as a mushroom pigment.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 1998 37(23):3292–5.
Abstract from Interscience

Ohtsuka S, Ueno S, Yoshikumi C, Hirose F, Ohmura Y, Wada T, Fujii T, Takahashi E.
Polysaccharides having an anticarcinogenic effect and a method of producing them from species of Basidiomycetes.
UK Patent 1331513, 26 September 1973.

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