Laccaria, the deceiver (Laccaria laccata)

A whole field of Laccarias
A whole field of Laccaria

Phylum: Basidiomycota Class: Agaricomycetes Order: Agaricales Family: Hydnangiaceae

Laccaria are a very common mushroom in the Pine forests near Gawler. There’s several species around but those in Australia are all edible. The one we get in this area are Laccaria laccata. Laccaria have a mycorrhizal association with Pine trees and you’ll only find them where Pine trees are.They’re particularly common in commercial Pinus radiata forests where you’ll find them along with Slippery Jacks, False Truffles and Saffron Milk Caps.

At the right time of year, once you ‘get your eye in’ on them, you’ll find yourself gathering bucketfuls of them with very little effort.

Very common individually or in groups
Very common individually or in groups

Laccaria are a very common mushroom in Pine forests. They occur either individually or, more often in groups that may cover a large area. There are several species in Australia and the good news is that they’re all edible.

You can harvest a lot of Laccaria (is the plural ‘Laccaria’ or ‘Laccarias‘?) in a short time. They can be a bit fibrous and stringy, especially the stems. Myself, I like them pickled or dried and powdered as they take on a stronger taste this way.

The caps start off convex and with solid margins.
The caps start off convex and with solid margins.
Laccaria have a velvety texture on the cap
Laccaria have a velvety texture on the cap.
The gills are distinct and have smaller gills in between.
The gills are distinct and have smaller gills in between.
The cap starts off with a solid margin.
The cap starts off with a solid margin when young.
The margins curl a lot as the day goes on.
The margins curl a lot as the day goes on.
Cross section shows how fibrous the stem is.
Cross section shows how fibrous the stem is.
A perfect specimen for the pot.
A perfect specimen for the pot.
Weird deformities are common. They don't affect edibility.
Weird deformities are common. They don’t affect edibility.

Identifying Laccaria

If you’re under Pine trees and see something that you think could be a Laccaria, look for these details –

  • Brown to pink cap 1/2 cm to 5 cm diameter
  • A velvety texture on the cap
  • The cap starts convex, then becomes more concave and wavy edged as the mushroom matures. It can even curl in on itself
  • Pinky/Purple or even slightly red gills
  • Small gills in between larger ones
  • Fibrous stem, hollow inside, 5 to 10 cm long, often twisted
  • Many Laccaria have a deformity on the cap. They’re still tasty though.
  • You can even get an individual growing on another Laccaria!
  • Spore colour is white.

If you find a mushroom under Pine trees that fits all of the above requirements, you’ve got yourself a Laccaria! They’re usually in the same area as Saffron Milk Caps, Slippery Jacks and False Truffles.

For reference, they’re listed on page 102 of ‘A field guide to Australian Fungi’ by Bruce Fuhrer.

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