Dessert anyone? Plums & Custard

This is one of my favourite mushrooms, not really for eating but mainly because of it’s attractive colours and fantastic commonly used name!

Tricholomopsis rutilansSimply 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!

Tricholomopsis rutilans

QUICK ID TABLE: PLUMS AND CUSTARD Tricholomopsis rutilans


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.


Adnate to adnexed. Custard yellow.

Spore Print: White (see how to take a spore print here).


In woodland on rotting coniferous wood and stumps. Late summer – late autumn.


Edible but doesn’t taste good.

Freckled Fungus – The Spotted Toughshank

Although this is a very common species of mushroom, I don’t come across them that often. Even though mainly white in colour they always seem to be hiding under bracken or disguise themselves in similar woodland undergrowth.

Collybia maculataBut once seen, never forgotten, the Spotted Toughshank (Collybia maculata / Rhodocollybia maculata*) is a nice looking, creamy white, chocolate sprinkled mushroom. Although I should really say Toadstool as it is inedible (tough and bitter) and there really isn’t any chocolate involved! If only…

I found this lovely group of ‘toughshanks’ (common name) in some mixed woodland, near the edge of a grassy woodland path hiding in the undergrowth. They can be found in both deciduous and coniferous woodland but they tend to favour coniferous trees – like this group.

The caps are initially a clean with a (slightly creamy) white colour, but soon develop brown spots or freckles on the cap. These tan brown spots can sometimes merge or not be as contrasty against the white cap, so it may sometimes appear as one blended brown patch, especially at the centre. When younger the caps are dome shaped but flatten out with age and sometimes get wavy at the edges.

On the underside the crowded gills (free from the stem) are also white and, in a similar fashion to the cap, become spotted dark brown with age.

The stem is also a great identification marker too. As with all Collybia species, the ‘shank’ is tough, fibrous and flexible. None of this genus have rings present either. As you see in the pictures they can also grow quite tall (up to 12cm), markings are similar to the cap, but mainly white and the longer stems can sometimes be slightly routing.

So be on the lookout anytime this summer to late autumn. They’re out there, but also like to to hide! See the extra ID notes below for further information…

*Note: To date, some members of the Collybia family have been moved to new genera due to DNA research and some may have different names. ‘Collybia maculata’ still seems to be currently used here and there, but technically speaking it is ‘Rhodocollybia maculata’.

Collybia maculata

See the speckles? The typical brown spots on the white cap of the Spotted Toughshank.

QUICK ID TABLE: BUTTER CAP Collybia butyracea / Rhodocollybia butyracea


3-10cm across. First domed then flattened slightly. Creamy white, developing brown spotted markings on the surface.


5-10cm x 0.7-1.5cm. Similar colour to cap. Sometimes ‘rooting’.


Free, white and crowded. Brown spots appear with age.
Spore Print: Cream to pale pink (see how to take a spore print here).


In all woodland. In undergrowth or bracken on heath land. Summer – late autumn.


Not edible. Too tough and bitter.

The Genus COLLYBIA (Toughshanks); RHODOCOLLYBIA taxonomy for this species: Characteristics to look out for:

• Tough, fibrous/flexible stems.
• No ring or volva present.
• Gills often crowded / never decurrent.