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Charcoal Burner

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

One of the best tasting Russulas but to identify it you need to know the family as it doesn’t have the brittle gills typical of the other Russulas.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Charcoal Burner (EN), Tegyll Brau Dulas (CY), Gołąbek Zielonawofioletowy (PL), Kékhátú Galambgomba (HU)
Scientific Name Russula cyanoxantha
Season Start Jul
Season End Oct
Average Mushroom height (CM) 11
Average Cap width (CM) 15
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


Convex to flattening with a depression in the centre. The colour can vary considerably being olive, brown, wine, grey, purple or even yellowish. Greasy when wet.


Gills white and flexible unlike other Russulas whose gills are brittle.


White, firm and staining slightly green when rubbed with iron salts.


White, thick and firm.


Mixed and broad leaved woodland particularly beech. Said to grow in troops but I have only found individual mushrooms.

Possible Confusion

Other Russulas but these have brittle gills rather than the charcoal burners flexible ones.
The stems of other Russulas stain salmon pink when rubbed with iron salts whereas the burner stains slightly green.

Spore Print

White to pale cream. Broadly ellipsoid.

Taste / Smell

Good, mild and nutty.


Fairly common.


4 comments for Charcoal Burner

  1. James England says:

    Hi I’ve found quite a few of these I think but I’m confused by the flexible / brittle gill description. When I run my thumb along them they flake away like almond flakes. What am I looking for in terms of flexibility? Thanks

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      If it is a Charcoal Burner the gills will flex like most other mushrooms, if they are flaking off easily then it is not a Charcoal Burner. There are several look-a-like Russulas but the taste test is the best way to see if it is edible. See our Identifying Russula article.

  2. Tom says:

    These definitely do grow in troops! Been finding them in patches of maybe 25 mushrooms at a time. (not all fit for eating mind you) They are well disguised amogst leaf litter – sometimes just a small part of the cap is showing, as if the mushroom is not quite ready to spring up – until you pull it up that is – then you find a whole mushroom with a long stem buried under the leaves! Also they taste delicious! 😉

    1. Tom says:

      I want to add that I’ve only just learnt to identify these this season but I’ve discovered that a key identifying feature of these for a novice, aside from the flexible gills and the colour etc, is the very firm stem. Most other (but not all) russulas have a rather squishy stem while charcoal burner stems are often almost rock hard. Not enough is made of this fact in the description above. It’s also a handy way to tell if you’re onto the right thing without having to actually pull up all sorts of other mushrooms since you can, with a bit if care, feel the stem without disturbing the mushrooms.

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