Cortinarius glaucocephalus

Cortinarius glaucocephalus M.M. Moser, Ammirati & Halling

40-80 (100 mm) wide, at first incurved then convex to plane, viscid, colors variable, may range from hazel to grey olivaceous from disc to margin or be bluish green, to black throughout in wet conditions. Other collections may appear paler blue-green, olive, brownish green or tan when dry, often radially streaked. Gills: At first deep bluish-purple in a darker tone than typical for ‘purple’ Cortinarius species, becoming grey, to lavendar, and olivaceous brown. Stipe: 30-60 mm long, 11-22 mm thick at apex, streaked, dark slate, blue-grey, green, silvery-grey, bulbous, sometimes abrupt and turnip-shaped. Flesh: Dingy white, grey or lavendar-grey, streaked blue-grey in stipe margin, ochraceous in stipe base. Cortina: Greenish grey to grey when young, later yellow-brown. Taste: Mild to sweet. Exsiccata: cap bronze, flesh light tan to yellow-brown, cortina grey.

Spores: The type description records spores as 8.2-9.4 x 4.1-5 microns (mean 8.8 microns). They are subliminiform to liminiform and finely verrucose. While sequenced collections conform to this range, we did note an unsequenced collection that was morphologically similar but spores averaged around 9.5 microns, up to 10.75 microns long. Spore size may need further investigation. SDA679 spores are shown below).

Microscopy: The pileipellis in this species is fairly typical of Phlegmaciod species in having a gelatinous layer of relatively narrow repent hyphae. These can be seen as the hyphae with a lot of apparent ‘space’ between them. They are inflated by the gelatinous (viscid) material. In this case clamp connections are clearly present and fine dots on the hyphal walls are called “encrustrations”. Hyphae in the sub-pellis are less regular and wider.

Habitat and Ecology: The type location is mixed forest with Tsuga, Pseudotsuga, Pinus ponderosa, Abies, Arctostaphylos manzanita and also live oak. I have found the species in urban plantings with imported oak, as well as with Quercus laurifolia. It appears to favor a mix of tree species.


Cortinarius glaucocephalus presents with an unusual color range from very dark watery greens to light bluish green. Photographers have a hard time capturing the color tones, which appear more red than blue. Suspect C.glaucocephalus when you find a glutinous dark, blackish to blue-green or highly variable Phlegmaciod with distinctively streaked cap, and somewhat yellow-brown disc in mature specimens.

We have several sequenced collections of Cortinarius glaucocephalus from our region. The type is from Caspar, in Mendocino Northern California and our collections are a close to perfect match to the Type – GenBank Accession number: NR_130221.1. In 2000, when the species was described, Moser and Ammirati wrote that “the taxonomic position of C.glaucocephalus is unclear”. Recent work by Soop et. al. (2019) shows that it is close to, but separate from /Glaucopodes in a section Glaucocephali.

Soop 2019

>SDA161 Cortinarius glaucocephalus USA WA


Moser, Meinhard M and Ammirati, J.F. “Studies in North American Cortinarii VI. New and Interesting Taxa in Subgenus Phlegmacium from the Pacific States of North America.” Mycotaxon 74, no. 1 (March 2000): 1–36.

Soop, K., B. Dima, J.A. Cooper, D. Park, and B. Oertel. “A Phylogenetic Approach to a Global Supraspecific Taxonomy of Cortinarius ( Agaricales ) with an Emphasis on the Southern Mycota.” Persoonia – Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi 42, no. 1 (July 19, 2019): 261–90.

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