Named for the color of their delicate caps, lilac bonnet mushrooms are one of the many species scientifically listed in the genus Mycena. This mushroom’s rounded lilac cap usually has a white edge, pale gills and can be found emerging from decaying organic matter in both deciduous and coniferous forests. They have also been found in grasslands, such as those in east and central Texas.
Lilac bonnet mushrooms contain the poison muscarine and shouldn’t be eaten. Most mushrooms in the genus Mycena contain various amounts of the poison muscarine. While lilac bonnet mushrooms have a smaller amount compared to other varieties, it isn’t safe for human consumption.
Despite its common name, lilac bonnet mushrooms can be white, cream, yellow, pink, pinkish-brown, red, tan, and even blue. Mycologists theorize that the color of this common mushroom depends on how much light filters through the forest canopy.
Lilac bonnet synonyms include:
- lilac bellcap
- poison radish
- Agaricus prunus
- Agaricus purus
- Agaricus pseudopurus
- Agaricus ianthinus
- Agaricus purpureus
Fast Facts about the Lilac Bonnet
- The specific epithet pura stems from the Latin adjective purum, which means “clean” or “pure.”
- In 1794, Christian Hendrik Persoon gave this mushroom the name agaricus prunus. German Paul Kummer assigned its current name in 1871.
- Lilac bonnet fungi has a strong, bitter taste similar to a radish.
- Lilac bonnet mushrooms and other mycena species are bioluminescent, giving off a weak glow in the dark.
How Do I Identify Mycena Pura?
Saprobic, feeding on dead or dying organic matter and leaf litter near conifers and sometimes near hardwoods.
The cap can be convex, flat, or distinctly bell shaped in mature specimens. It usually measures between 2 -6 centimeters in diameter. Young lilac bonnets are almost always purple, while older specimens often take on shades of other colors.
When damp, the cap is distinctly lined.
Radially twisted, smooth, and gray, about 2 – 8 centimeters in length.
Pale gray gills with a slight purple tint.
Lilac bonnet mushrooms can be found almost year round in warmer climates in the spring, summer, fall, and sometimes even the winter.
What Are the Other Mycena Species?
Species similar to mycena pura are:
- Rosy Bonnet Mushrooms (Mycena rosea) – pure pink bonnet mushrooms.
- There is some debate whether rosy bonnet mushrooms and lilac bonnet mushrooms are two separate species, as not all mycologists agree they are the same species despite evidence of different toxic chemicals in each.
- Because of their similarities can sometimes be difficult to tell whether a mushroom is either mycena pura or mycena rosea.
- Bleeding Fairy Helmet (Mycena haematopus) – known for their dark burgundy color, the caps of this mycena subspecies turn dark red when cut – lending to its common name.
- Pixie’s Parasol (Mycena interrupta) – these mushrooms have distinctive bright blue caps and is found in the Southern hemisphere, most commonly in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and New Caledonia.
- Green Pepe (Mycena chlorophos) – found throughout Asia and Oceania, including the countries of Japan, Taiwan, India, Polynesia, Indonesia, and Australia. This variation has the strongest bioluminescence of any mycena mushroom.
- Common Bonnet (Mycena galericulata) is the toque mycena or the rose-gilled fairy helmet.
Where Can I Find Mycena Pura?
Lilac bonnet mushrooms can be found throughout North America, Canada, Britain, Ireland, and mainland Europe. They can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests, though they are more likely to grow near conifers. They’ve occasionally been found growing in grasslands as well as forests.
While the mycena pura mushroom grows in the forests and grasslands of North America and Europe, other mycena species have been spotted throughout the globe. For example, Pixie’s parasol and green pepe are found throughout Asia and Oceania and grow best in tropical and subtropical climates, despite their similarities to mycena pura.
They grow almost year round and can be found in the spring, summer, and fall. However, depending on the climate, mycena pura can sometimes be seen sprouting during the winter.
Their peak season is June through October in cooler climates, such as those in Britain, Ireland, and northern Europe.
Like all wild mushrooms, Mycena pura are sensitive to drought and rainfall. It may be difficult to find them during droughts or years with less rainfall than usual. Conversely, they will flourish during years with more rainfall than average.
Bioactive Compounds in Lilac Bonnets
Mycena pura contains puraquinonic acid. This compound induces mammalian cells to split into cells similar to granulocyte or macrophage cells. Unfortunately, mycena pura also contains the poison muscarine, which can be lethal to people and animals.
Muscarine attacks the peripheral parasympathetic nervous system. If not treated immediately, the poison can cause a collapse of the circulatory system and death.
Symptoms of muscarine poisoning include blurred vision, increased salivation, excessive sweating, diarrhea, and severe abdominal cramps.