Hygrophorus russula: The False Russula

Hygrophorus russula (Schaeff.) Kauffman, the pinkmottle woodwax.


Agaricus russula Schaeff.
Gymnopus russulus (Fr.) Gray
Tricholoma russula (Schaeff.) Gillet

Common name

Pinkmottle woodwax
Russula-like waxy cap


Cap: 5-12 cm broad, convex to plane or with uplifted margin in older specimens; surface slimy when wet, but drying out quickly; pink to red, often streaked with purple-red fibrils; smooth or finely hairy, sometimes staining yellowish when rubbed or in age; margin often paler or whitish and incurved when young.
Flesh: thick, white or pink-tinged, hard; odor and taste mild.
Gills: usually adnate but sometimes adnexed or slightly decurrent, close, soft, slightly waxy; white when young but soon becoming light pink and developing purple-red to vinaceous spots in age; acuminate at the ends.

Hygrophorus russula Gills
Gills of the Hygrophorus russula

Stem: 3-8 cm long, 1.5-3.5 cm thick; solid, dry, smooth, equal or tapered below; white, soon stained or streaked pink to reddish or vinaceous. No veil.
Spore print: white.
Spores: 6-8 x 3-5 µm, ellipsoid, smooth.
Habitat: scattered to gregarious or in rings in mixed woods and under hardwoods, associated largely with oaks.
Edibility: although listed by most field guides as edible (and/or choice), opinions vary as to its desirability.
Location: widely distributed in North America and Europe. Summer-Autumn.

Medicinal properties

Anti-tumor effects

Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of H. russula 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% (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).

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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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