This piggyback Russula is extraordinary. The little one was perfectly formed and growing out of the top of the lower. The 'baby' arose from a position about a quarter in from the edge of its 'parent'. There are some rare toadstools which grow in a parasitic fashion on the caps of other toadstools, but in this case the two are the same species. I know - I took pains to check them out. I am amazed that the word 'russule' is well known to most, I suspect all, our French friends. If I say 'Oh, c'est une russule', in explanation of a find, the word is immediately registered. How many British would be so aware? The next question is usually 'Est-ce comestible? Why, I can never understand. Few mushrooms are worth the trouble, but nevertheless many russulas are edible. A great many more have a acrid taste and would probably not pass the first taste buds, but apart from a terrible pain in the guts are unlikely to kill. So- how do you recognise a russula? The most important feature is that the stipe (stem) is crumbly rather than stringy or tough. The shape is squat and sturdy. The gills (lamelles) are horizontal. The spore colour (on the gills) varies from white to yolk yellow. The smells are immensely variable. The following are described - apples, apricots, pear drops, coconut, pelargonium, ginger, honey, cedarwood, menthol, cooked artichokes, crab, fish, wine casks, oily, bitter almonds, camembert cheese. The colours of the caps are even more varied. I doubt if a colour exists that is not found amongst the russules. Why do they have these colours? You tell me. It is through a combination of these features and also microscopical ones that one can with much trouble diagnose them. This species is Russula pseudointegra. How is it that the piggyback growth has happened? Again- who knows?
Every species lives with a tree, giving to the tree mineral nutrients from the soil and obtaining sugars and other food from the tree (the mycorrhizal condition). Many are invariably bound to a particular tree species, and it is doubtful if the tree would survive without them and their relatives.
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