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September 30, 2014

Russula virescensRussula virescens:
Green-cracking Russula, Quilted Green Russula

Most of the green colored Russulas are edible. I believe that one of the most distinctive of them, R. virescens, is the best tasting of the lot. It ranks up there with R. xerampelina and R.cyanoxantha. Although an excellent edible the appearance is not; in the Mid-Atlantic states it is called the moldy Russula. Antonio Carlucci in The Complete Mushroom says that it is not nice to look at.

The dull green to olive green, dry, convex cap ranges from 2 to 5 inches wide and flattens with age with a sunken center. The surface of the fleshy cap breaks up intoRussula virescens small flattened patches with white to very light green between. Sometimes the cap exhibits some yellow orange tones particularly in the sunken center. The attached gills are white to cream colored and are crowded. The white to yellowish white stem ranges from 1 ½ to 4 inches tall and from ¾ to 1 1/2 inches thick. The stem is stuffed becoming hollow with age. The taste is mild and somewhat nutty. The spore print is white with a faint yellow to yellow orange tint.

The green-cracking Russula has a number of look-alikes. R. parvovirescens can be distinguished by its smaller stature (cap 1 ½ to 3 inches wide, stem up to 2 ½ inches tall and ¾ inches wide). Russula virescensR. crustosa whose cap skin also breaks up into patches is more variably colored (reddish, yellowish or brown) and the spore print is clearly yellow. There are several Russulas with smooth green caps (R. aeruginea, R. heterophylla, a green variant of R. cyanoxantha). These are hard to distinguish from young specimens of R . virescens the skin of whose caps has not yet cracked. Fortunately all of the above smooth green Russulas are also edible. The inedible R. redolans, another smooth green Russula, has an unpleasant taste and smells strongly of parsley.