Beechwood Sickener

Poisonous Poisonous
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

A large family of mushrooms and a safe one for novice foragers in the UK and Europe, as the poisonous species will only cause vomiting, nothing more serious.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Beechwood Sickener (EN), Tegyll Brau Nobl (CY), Gołąbek Buczynowy (PL), Bükkfa-Galambgomba (HU)
Scientific Name Russula nobilis
Synonyms Russula mairei
Season Start Aug
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 7
Average Cap width (CM) 10
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Convex to flattening sometimes slightly depressed in the middle. Bright crimson red, pale red to occasionally white. If peeled the flesh underneath is usually pink.


White/cream, brittle and slightly connected to stem. Crowded when young.


White, quite tough flesh which should snap a little like chalk.




Beech woodland.

Possible Confusion

Other red or pink Russulas, this species grows only with beech but there are look a likes that grow with other broadleaf and coniferous trees (see the Sickener, pictured.) A good test for Russulas is the taste test, if a tiny amount is placed on the tongue and chewed a burn like chilli means the mushroom is poisonous, a pleasant mushroomy taste means it is edible. This test should only be attempted when you are certain you have a mushroom from the genus Russula.

Spore Print

Off-white. Ovoid with warts. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

The smell is sweet but very faint, may resemble coconut when young. When chewed and placed on the tongue it has a very hot and acrid taste, this is one of the poisonous Russulas. The taste test should only be done when you’re certain that you have a Russula and the chewed bits should be spat out.

Other Facts

This mushroom is also known by the binomial name of Russula mairei. The genus Russula split from other mushrooms, evolutionarily, many years ago and have round cells instead of most other mushrooms which have elongated cells, this gives Russulas the common name Brittlegills as the cells make the mushroom brittle.


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