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Common Laccaria

Laccaria laccata
Family: 
Hydnangiaceae
Description: 

Small, brownish pink cap with a central depression; the gills and stalk are a pale pinkish brown. Grows scattered or in groups in poor or sandy soil in mixed woods. June–November. Cap convex to flat with a central depression; brownish pink, becoming pinkish, then off-white; texture smooth; margin curves in at first, becoming finely wavy. Gills thick; width broad; spacing distant; pale pinkish brown; gills attached or slightly descending the stalk. Stalk with sides fairly equal (neither swollen nor very tapered); light brownish to tawny to pinkish; texture tough, fibrous. Spore print white. Spores magnified are broadly elliptical, spiny, colorless.

Lookalikes: Other Laccaria species, none of which are known to be poisonous.

Size: 
Cap width: 1/2–2 inches; stalk length: 1–3 inches; stalk width: 1⁄8–1/2 inch.
Habitat and conservation: 
Grows scattered or in groups in poor or sandy soil in mixed woods.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide.
Status: 
Edible, but often difficult to identify because its appearance is quite variable. Use caution.
Life cycle: 
This species is mycorrhizal: It exists most of the time as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree roots, in a symbiotic relationship with the tree. (Many trees fare poorly without their fungal partners.) When ready to reproduce, the mycelium sends up the “mushroom” aboveground—this is the reproductive structure. Spores are produced in these structures and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.
Human connections: 
Mushroom hunters sometimes call this species “the deceiver” because although it can be quite common, it is also remarkably variable in appearance and may be difficult to distinguish from other Laccaria species.
Ecosystem connections: 
This is one of the many fungus species that help nourish forest trees through a symbiotic connection with tree roots. The netlike fibers of the fungus multiply the roots' ability for absorbing water and nutrients. In return, the tree shares nutrients with the fungus.
Shortened URL
http://mdc.mo.gov/node/20377