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Charcoal Burner (Russula Cyanoxantha) – Identification.

Charcoal burner/Summer/Autumn/Edible

Scientific Name

Russula Cyanoxantha




Mixed and broad leaved woodland particularly beech. growing in small groups. 


There are several purple/greenish/grey capped Brittlegills, the charcoal burner is the only one with greasy, non-brittle gills. This is by far the best eating Brittlegill and is worth adding to stews and soups or just enjoyed on toast!

Björn S…, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Features for Charcoal Burner:


Convex sometimes with a central depression . The colour can vary between specimens being olive, brown, wine, grey, purple or even yellowish. becomes greasy/slimy when wet.

Björn S…, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


White to off White stem between 5 and 10cm long. If you rub the stem with iron salts. the stem turns bright green.


Gills white and flexible unlike other Russulas whose gills are brittle.

Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Indistictive mushroom smell with a mild nuty taste.


white to cream 


this is an excellent eating mushroom and by far the best tasting Russula( Brittlegill) 

In food

must be cooked, this is an excellent mushroom as it has a mild nutty taste and firm and thick flesh  


Found from late July to November growing in mixed deciduous woodland.

Known hazards

must be cooked as well as other russulas. 

Potential lookalikes


Other Russulas but these have brittle gills rather than the charcoal burners flexible ones.
The stems of other Russulas stain salmon pink when rubbed with iron salts whereas the burner stains slightly green.

-Snap – Does the stem snap like a piece of chalk?
-Flick – Do the gills break when you flick them gently?
-Peel – Does the skin on the cap peel away?
-Taste–  this should only be done when you have gone through the other steps and are confident that you have a Russula. If a tiny amount placed on the tongue a chilli like burn or tingle means the mushroom is poisonous but a pleasant mushroomy taste means it is edible.


When applying this four step process you should not get brittle gills as the Charcoal Burner does not exhibit them.


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