Lepista nuda — Blewit


Blewit2, photograph by Ludovic Le Renard.


Blewits2 with expanded caps, photograph by Mirjana Valdes.

Odour: Floral or like citrus or frozen orange juice6 when young.
Taste: Mild to slightly spicy with age (spit out a small bite of a raw mushroom after tasting).
Cap: : 3–12 cm in diameter. When young, the cap may have a central umbo and the margin is inrolled. Caps mature to be flatter or wavy but their margins remain slightly inrolled (see 'Additional image'). The colour varies greatly, from deep violaceous to pinkish beige or even reddish brown. The margin is often lighter and the colours become less vivid when the mushroom dries out. The surface feels slightly greasy to the touch when wet, and appears shiny or metallic when dry. Thick-fleshed.
Gills: Crowded, broadly attached to the stem. Distinctly and deeply lilac when young but becoming duller beige or reddish brown with age.
Stem: : 3–11 cm long x 1–3 cm wide, straight, and often widest just above the base. White fibrils cover the lilac surface making the stem look lighter than the cap. The stem is solid.
Ring or veil: None
Cup: None.
Spores: 5.5–9 x 3.5–5 µm, with small warts.
Habitat: Single, or in clusters or arcs on the ground in varied habitats, from grasslands and lawns to woods and forests, often at the edge of forests. Saprotrophic.
Geographical range: Northern Hemisphere.
Remarks: Also known as Clitocybe nuda3. This is a species complex with multiple species, probably geographically defined, but the separate species have yet to be named.

Some webcap (Cortinarius) species look like blewits, sharing the lilac colour and bulbous stem. However, unlike the blewits, the lilac-coloured webcaps have rusty brown spores that stick to the fibrous remnants of the veil on the stem. Toxicity of these webcap species is not known. The blewit could also be confused with the lilac Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis. Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis, a non-toxic species, is distinguishable from the blewit by its thicker, widely spaced gills, dull matt cap, and very fibrous stem.
Blewits are edible for most people as long as they are thoroughly cooked7, eaten in moderation, and collected in an uncontaminated habitat. Blewits will accumulate heavy metals, in particular lead from their environment8,9, and so blewits collected from roadsides or other contaminated areas should not be eaten. The species has occasionally been blamed for causing gastrointestinal distress10. Their flavour varies depending on their habitat.

Treatment: Contact your regional Poison Control Centre if you realize you or someone you know has become ill after eating blewits. Poison centres provide free, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If possible, save the mushrooms or some of the leftover food containing the mushrooms to help confirm identification.

Poison Control:
British Columbia: 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.
United States (WA, OR, ID): 1-800-222-1222.

MyCoPortal. Mycology Collections Portal, accessed March 2018.

Specimen Lepista nuda UBC F32071, GenBank #MH718212.

Siegel, N. & Schwarz, C. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California (2016).

Trudell, S. & Ammirati, J. F. Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon (2009).

Kuyper, T. W. Lepista pp. 67-75 in Flora Agaricina Neerlandica Vol. 3 (eds. Bas, C., Kuyper, T. W., Noordeloos, M. E., & Vellinga, E. C.) CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida (1995).

Arora, D. Mushrooms Demystified. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California (1986).

Beug, M. W. NAMA Toxicology Committee Report for 2011. McIlvainea 21 (2011).

Kalač, P. & Svoboda, L. A review of trace element concentrations in edible mushrooms. Food Chem. 69, 273-281, doi:10.1016/s0308-8146(99)00264-2 (2000).

Kalač, P., Burda, j. & Stašková, I. Concentrations of lead, cadmium, mercury and copper in mushrooms in the vicinity of a lead smelter. Sci. Total Environ. 105, 109-119, doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/0048-9697(91)90333-A (1991).

Beug, M. W., Shaw, M. & Cochran, K. W. Thirty-plus years of mushroom poisoning: Summary of the approximately 2,000 reports in the NAMA case registry. McIlvainea 16, 47-68 (2006).