The Sickener (Russula emetica)- Identification

The Sickener/Summer/Autumn/Inedible

Scientific Name

Russula emetica




Pine woodland 


This red capped Russula is a mushroom straight out of a fairytale . Its name should be enough to discourage you from eating it.

Identifying Features for The Sickener:


Convex to flattening, sometimes slightly depressed in the middle. Strong red colour. Can be sticky when wet.


White can sometimes be bulbous towards the base


Adnexed, cream to pale yellow, mainly free from stem. Very brittle to the touch.

Adnexed gills


Mushroomy but very hot and spicy to taste. this should be a sign to not eat this mushroom.


White to cream.


none as this is poisonous.

In food

Do not eat this mushroom. The name should be enough to dissuade you


you wouldn’t want to harvest it however it is found between July and November

Known hazards

this is a poisonous mushroom

Potential lookalikes

Other red capped Russula. Like the Beechwood Sickener (Russula Nobilis). This is another poisonous mushroom that has a red cap however it as its name suggests grows in beech woodland whilst the Sickener prefers Pine woodland.

With all russula before eating one you should do the four step test.

-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.

Leave a Reply

You look like a Fun-Guy!

Maybe you'd like to join us for some hands-on Foraging?

foraging mushrooms boletus

Find our Upcoming Courses here