Laccaria proxima – an abundant species

Laccaria proxima is known from both Europe and North America.   In my area it is strictly associated with pine plantations.   I believe that the pine species is the Maritime Pine, Pinus pinaster.  The occurrence of L. proxima is variable, but it appears to be extremely common in well established plantations with trees of a diameter of around 300 mm.

In June in these forests there is a wide variety of fungi, including several small mushrooms with brown caps.   Laccaria proxima is distinctive in that it has pale salmon pink gills that are not crowded.  This distinguishes it from another abundant species with yellow gills that are crowded as shown below.  Laccaria proxima has a white spore print.  This should be checked.

Laccaria proxima, with pink gills on the right.

L. proxima varies in size from about 20 mm to 80mm in diameter.  The stems can be up to 100mm long and they emerge from the pine needle mat. Underneath the mat, one can see the white mycelium in a layer on the top of the soil.  As the mushrooms grow, they move from having slightly inrolled margins to curling up so that the gills are exposed.   Below are pictures of the different stages.

A young specimen of Laccaria proxima
Mature specimens of Laccaria proxima

A distinctive feature is the striations on the stem.  These stems are quite tough.  A small white mite was present on the specimens  that I picked in late June.   They are a long lasting mushroom that does not suffer gross attack by insects or slugs.   In the sandy soils of WA pine plantations, these mushrooms are sometimes contaminated by sand that splashes up as a result of falling raindrops.

I prepared some of these by washing them and then frying in a pan with oil.   I had to decant some of the water during cooking as it had caught up in the gills.  I added some ham to the mixture in the pan and ate them on toast.   The taste resembled Volvariella slightly, though it was not as intense.   I found that it left a pleasant after-taste when I had finished the meal and this lingered for some time.

There is a smaller abundant  native species, Laccaria lateritia.  It is very similar in general appearance, but it is smaller and the stems do not display the same striations as in L. proxima.  It is probably edible as well but I have not tried it at this stage.  It is interesting that various early documents refer to a red, juicy mushroom being eaten by indigenous people.   Laccaria lateritia is possible candidate for this, given it’s abundance, as is some species of Hygrocybe, though they are less abundant these days. There is insufficient information to be able to identify the mushroom in question.

This is an interesting mushroom because of its abundance and well established edibility from overseas experience.  Though it is not considered to be a choice edible, it is quite palatable and the pleasant after taste makes it interesting.  I suspect that it has a flavour-enhancing quality to it.

11 January 2021

Recent chemical analyses have revealed the presence of a couple of unique alkaloids in this species. These are called proxamidines and the molecules contain and 8-membered ring that includes two nitrogen atoms. One of these is shown in the figure below. The two blue nitrogen atoms can be seen in the structure. The compounds were tested for biological activity but the only thing that was found was a weak herbicidal effect on a cress specimen using a standard technique. It has been suggested that these alkaloids may be responsible for the lack of insect attack that I mentioned above.


There are another couple of interesting features of Laccaria. The genome of Laccaria bicolor was published in 2007 at which time it was the largest fungal genome yet published at 65 megabases. In an article in Nature, some features of this rather large genome are discussed. One feature that is noted is the coding of multiple genes that give it the ability to utilise nitrogen sources, particularly ammonia. I have read this somewhere else where it was compared with Hebeloma aminophilum in this regard. I have actually tried to test this out by spreading some urea on a patch of pine duff but the only thing that was apparent was a greater than normal amount of Amanita muscaria in that patch.

Yet another feature of Laccaria is that it has been found to be stimulated by electrical impulses so as to produce a greater number of fruiting bodies. This has been found both in field tests and in nursery pots. Many other mushrooms respond to the same treatment, notably Shiitake.

The spores of this species show spikes on the surface and are approximately 8.7 x 6.4 microns.

Spores of Laccaria proxima

20 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    judith jones said,

    Now you have reminded me to check the fungi that look similar to these in the Aldgate Valley of the Adelaide HIlls (and under Pinus sp exclusively, that much I have noticed).
    I should go and determine which sp they are. Thank you.

    • 2

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Judith,

      Nice to see that you are following the blog 🙂

      I will be making a few more additions soon that will cover a couple of other species that you might find around your way.

      Stand by!


  2. 3

    Glenn said,

    Hi Morrie, fascinating blog.

    I’m trying to identify some funghi that have sprung up in our spinach patch (in Perth). I think they may be Laccaria Proxima.

    Any thoughts?

    • 4

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I don’t think your mushrooms are Laccaria proxima. Two reasons for this are: they are not growing in association with pine trees (I assume) and the gills do not have a pink colour. It is also the wrong time of year.

      Sometimes one sees Laccaria lateritia growing in garden beds, but the gills on these are also pink and they look like a small version of Laccaria proxima.

      At the moment, I am in France and do not have any of my books with me, so cannot suggest what you mushrooms may be. There is a huge variety of little brown mushrooms and sometimes making an identification can be difficult. Don’t even think of eating them 🙂



  3. 5

    carolyn said,

    I do think i found this while out hunting slippery jacks but had no inkling thanks for the info 🙂 I will share this around though we won’t try it without a positive ID from an old hand. Morrie did you ever get around to eating the native species?

    • 6

      carolyn said,

      actually i just had a google – are you sure its not the other laccaria laccata? roger’s mushrooms says proxima is rare, wikiP says proxima has a scaly centre hence its name the scurfy deciever.

      • 7

        morrie2 said,

        Hi Carolyn,

        It isn’t easy to distinguish one Laccaria from another and I see what you mean about the scaly cap. In this case it is the habitat in an exotic pine plantation that was the clincher for me, together with the distinctly striped stipe. That and the fact that I spoke to the local mycologist who confirmed it in the location and it is written up as L. proxima in a local guide published in association with that mycologist.

        See what they say here about variability and differentiation:

        I have tried a small quantity of the native Laccaria on my block, but they are diminutive and much less abundant than the ones in the pines.

        The most important thing in this case is to distinguish between Laccaria and the other poisonous species that occur in the same habitat. The gill colour and spore print are very important features.

        Exciting to have the mushroom season on us again! I prefer Laccaria to Slippery Jacks any day.



  4. 8

    I have seen mushrooms that look just like these growing in SE QLD in Pinus radiata plantations. It was June/July and cold and wet (7-20degrees). Are Laccaria proxima known to grow this far north? Just asking because I have looked through all the fungal species listed in local foray’s and I have not seen Laccaria proxima listed.
    Thanks for posting this Morrie.

  5. 11

    jsunlau said,

    Thanks for the info, I recently picked a lot of Laccaria on my way to a Fungi dinner party, where collectively among 7 avid researchers we sampled 18 species (not all were wild). Another common edible dweller of pine forest is Rhizopogon. Forestry have introduced several varieties as mycorrhizal endophytes.
    I find these Rhizopogons to have really interesting texture and preserve nicely as a vinegar pickle.

  6. 13

    stephen walker said,

    g’day Morrie,

    thanks for your website, I’ve found it to be very informative and inspiring.

    I’ve been meaning to visit some pine plantations for the last couple of months to try my hand at foraging but have always been in to much of a rush to do so, until last night.

    I had to stop for a pee on my way back from Busselton and happened to pull over right next to an old-growth pine plantation so took the opportunity for a quick forage. being the end of August I didn’t expect to find much but was very excited to find a few Laccaria proxima and a couple of other mushrooms which I wasn’t able to identify as easily.

    the Lacceria proximas were quite tasty, but I’m unwilling to try the others until I’m sure of their identity. although I’ve found many pictures and descriptions on the internet, I can’t be sure if their chanterelles, saffron milk caps, or slippery jacks – or some other toxic look-alike???

    I’ve taken some photos which i’m hoping you might comment on, but i’m not sure how to include them in this post? perhaps I can email them to you instead?

    thanks Morrie, and once again thanks for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for fun fungi food foraging!

    kind regards,
    stephen walker (Bunbury)

    • 14

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Stephen,

      I am glad that you found some Laccaria proxima. It is getting late in the season and they do tend to get a small white mite in them as they get older. I was in some burnt jarrah forest today and there were lots of Laccaria lateritia, though they are so small it is hardly worth picking them. Do take care to check the gill colour of the L. proxima.

      I was in a pine forest last week and noticed some slippery jacks that had come up after the recent rains. Personally, I don’t bother with these any more as I consider them very poor eating.

      You won’t find any chanterelles in the pine forest and I have never heard of a saffron milk cap in WA so I would be extremely cautious about eating anything else. There are some deadly poisonous species in there and some that I have not been able to identify either.

      You can post pictures here by putting them onto a photo hosting site like Photobucket and providing a link to there.



      • 15

        jsunlau said,

        Sunshine coast Qld I find Cantharellus viscosus growing with Pinus elliottii and also an unknown Amanita aff rubescens, possibly introduced with Pinus elliottii, there is interest in DNA testing.

      • 16

        morrie2 said,

        Thanks for that. I thought that you were only finding the chants in mixed eucalypt/casuarina forest. I will keep an open mind. I am still waiting to hear your verdict on whether they are worth eating, as the ones I find here are really quite tasteless.

        Very interesting about the Amanita. I hope that you can collaborate to get some DNA work done on that. Debbie Weiss advised me to concentrate on eating the many edible Amanitas, but it would appear that she did not appreciate that the situation here in Australia is quite different from that in the US. I am not aware of any edible species here are you?

  7. 17

    stephen walker said,

    hello again Morrie,

    thanks for your reply.

    the proximas definitely had pink gills and the same striped stems as the specimens you have displayed above. you mentioned small white mites – I didn’t see any of those but there were literally thousands of tiny black jumping things, a few of which still continued to appear, even after i thought i’d tapped them all out. i’m not shy of eating the odd insect – mostly fat, protein and pre-digested whatever it is they’re infesting (in this case Laccaria proxima). I assume these tiny critters are harmless to consume??? I havn’t had any unusual side effects yet!

    I’ve followed your directions and posted the above mentioned photos on Photobucket, but can’t work out how to paste a link into here? I can cut and paste the web address, but it doesn’t want to hyperlink:

    perhaps you can go to Photobucket and search for ‘mushroom from busselton pine forest’ (1,2,3,4)

    I worked out they weren’t saffron milk caps when no yellowy-red juice exuded when I squeezed the caps. i’m disappointed to hear they don’t occur here in the west as they sound highly priced by foragers over east.

    and no chanterelles either you say, that is a shame – so maybe a slim chance they could be slippery jacks? even though they’re not the best eating – i’d still like to give em a go and decide for myself.

    having looked again at the photo’s I took, i’m not convinced they’re the same mushrooms, even though there was a clump which I assumed were all the same, they look quite different in shape and texture.

    thanks again Morrie.


    • 18

      morrie2 said,

      They are definitely not slippery jacks, as slippery jacks have bright yellow pores, not gills.

      They do appear to be two different species when you look at the gill attachment to the stems.

      The one on the right in photo 1 could perhaps be Panellus ligulatus which has that rather warped shape, similar in some ways to a chanterelle. Bruce Fuhrer has a picture of it as 238 in his field guide.

      I am not too sure about the other one.

  8. 19

    stephen walker said,

    IT WORKED!!!

    the web address i pasted converted to a hyperlink when I posted the comment, so you will be able to see the photos.


    • 20

      morrie2 said,

      Well done. I can see why you were thinking chanterelle but that isn’t what it is. I don’t know what those are, but I will see if I can find out.

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