This is one of my favourite mushrooms, not really for eating but mainly because of it’s attractive colours and fantastic commonly used name!
Simply called Plums and Custard (Tricholomopsis rutilans) this very common mushroom almost looks good enough to eat, and even sounds good enough to eat, but before you get too excited, the general consensus is that it’s just not recommended. Too watery, unappealing with a bitter or unpleasant taste. Mind you, I’m not really much a fan of the real dish!
When you first stumble across this mushroom, the first thing you notice is it’s striking purple cap (sometimes with a reddish tinge). On closer inspection you’ll notice that purple effect is made up of many purple/reddish flecks or scales on a predominately yellow cap. They’re are usually denser at the centre, appearing darker. The same colour features on the stem are similar to the cap, but the fine purple scales are less profuse.
On the underside you’ll find the distinctive rich yellow gills, which in my opinion, actually do have an uncanny hue of custard.
The size of this mushroom varies from place to place and can grow quite large. But basically the cap dimaetre ranges from as small as 4cm up to 12cm. I also read somewhere that one specimen at an Italian mushroom show had an unusually large cap of 56cm in diametre. Now that’s big!
Next time you’re out in coniferous woodland during the usual mushroom season (September – November) keep a look out for these beauties growing on or around dead wood or old stumps. Shame we can’t actually eat them. Not for pleasure anyway!
QUICK ID TABLE: PLUMS AND CUSTARD Tricholomopsis rutilans
CAP / FLESH
4-12cm across. Convex; sometimes bell-shaped usually with a shallow/broad umbo. Yellow flesh covered covered with purple/reddish scaly flecks.
3.5-6cm x 1-1.5cm. Colour and covering like cap but not as dense.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Adnate to adnexed. Custard yellow.
Spore Print: White (see how to take a spore print here).
HABITAT / SEASON
In woodland on rotting coniferous wood and stumps. Late summer – late autumn.
Edible but doesn’t taste good.