July 11, 2012
The spotted cort mushroom (Cortinarius iodes or the viscid violet cort) is a brilliant purple mushroom prized for its visually stunning appearance rather than its culinary utility.
Bell-shaped immature mushrooms display the intense blue-purple coloring. The flesh is smooth and a slimy covering protects the fruiting body from consumption by insects or other invertebrates. This covering persists into maturity and assists in identification. It is most apparent in wet weather. In the instance that the covering may have worn away, kissing the cap may be the last effective effort in detecting the slime coat. Lips have an enhanced sensitivity to stickiness.
The intense color, however, does not persist into mushroom maturity. Yellow spots begin to appear on aging caps and the color fads from purple to lilac to rust to grayish brown.
The spotted cort is edible, though not especially prized. Lookalikes exist with similar coloring. Some possess identical morphology, but lack the secondary yellow spots. Distinctions from related species employ tasting or smelling fruiting bodies. Accurate identification requires ample study.
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