Clitocybe (Lepista) nuda – The Wood Blewit – a surprise

Someone who is enthusiastic about mushrooms like I am will let their friends know about it and when they spot something that you might be interested in, they will tell you about it.  So it was the other day when we were looking at a house for sale in Bridgetown.  My friends were in a small section of yard where someone had dumped some grass clippings.  Spotting some mushrooms, they called me over.   To my amazement, there was a cluster of Clitocybe nuda, perhaps more widely known as Lepista nuda, or the Wood Blewit.  This is a very cosmopolitan and widely eaten mushroom, that requires cooking before consumption.

This mushroom is an introduction to Australia and is quite common on the east coast where I frequently see pictures of specimens that others have found, but having never seen it in Western Australia, I assumed that it did not occur here, like several other species more common in the east. Edit: I have subsequently found that there is a single record from the Perth region from 1981, but I cannot access the record for some reason. Too old perhaps.

The particular specimens that were growing from the grass clippings were rather aged, though there were some new buttons starting up.   In the image below you can see both.

Clitocybe nuda in grass clippings.

Clitocybe nuda in grass clippings.

I have overturned the mature specimens to show the purple colour of the gills.   You can just see a purple button emerging at about 5:30. (sort of, sorry about the image quality, I had to use my phone). Here is a close-up of one of the buttons in the pile.

Button of Clitocybe nuda

Because these specimens were too old, it was not possible to consider eating them.   I am currently in the process if trying to get a clone going from one of those little buttons though.

Edit.  I visited the site about a week later and the little button had grown into a small but fully formed mushroom.   I think that these are some of the prettiest mushrooms around.  When cut, the stem showed a purple colour similar to the gills.


There are some other purple mushrooms around that one might easily mistake for this one.   These belong to the genus Cortinarius and it would be most unwise to eat any of them.   The one the springs immediately to mind is Cortinarius archeri. There are two main differences between Cortinarius and this mushroom.  The first is that Cortinarius always grows in association with a tree.  It is mycorrhizal.  These specimens are quite clearly growing from the grass clippings where the mycelium could be seen reaching down into the pile, however.  The second is that Cortinarius has a rusty orange spore print (see below).  These had a rather pale spore print (it was a very faint print because of the age) but is was clearly not rusty orange.  The orange colour of Cortinarius can also be seen in the gills as they mature and as a deposit on the stem, where the remains of a membrane is evident.  Prue also talks about this type of confusion on her blog. She is possibly referring to Cortinarius austroviolaceus which is the Australian version of C. violaceus.


Cortinarius archeri

Another couple of purple capped mushrooms are Leucopaxillus lilacinus and Russula clelandii.

Though I haven’t eaten this one, my friend Fiona  over at WhereFishSing has reported her experience with it, which anyone interested might like to read.

Now that I know that these are around, I am hoping to find more of them.  And if anyone comes across some little purple button mushrooms growing in their compost or grass clippings, keep and eye on them and please let me know about it.

If I manage to get this into culture, I will post some further images.

As a footnote, there are several other species related to this one growing on the east coast though they are smaller.

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Those are beautiful. I’m on my way out to go mushroom hunting this afternoon. Found some Lactarius indigo the other day and I’m stoked.

    • 2

      morrie2 said,

      Hello David. I am not sure if you are trying to imply that these are Lactarius indigo, but in any case it does make an interesting comparison. Here in Australia, we don’t have deciduous woodlands where you might find Lactarius indigo. Neither do they occur in the plantation pine forests to the best of my knowledge though it might be nice if they did.

      The closest trees to these specimens were a couple of avocados. Other than that, it was pure Eucalyptus. In any case, they were growing in mid winter from a pile of lawn clippings, as I have mentioned and were clearly saprotrophic. And they did not exude any milk. Perhaps my most recent image will be more enlightening. You can see the gill shape attachment more clearly.

      Good luck with your hunt.

  2. 3

    jsunlau said,

    Found alot of these around the Oberon caravan park (NSW), but a little to late, they were dried but some still had the blue colour when the stem was cut, I kept the stem butts for culture, which also have a bluish mycelium. I did get to try one in Sydney, look forward to next season now I know a few spots. There are still alot of Tricholoma out in the pine forest, which am still studying, hoping to find Flammulina as there has been a little snow.

  3. 5

    morrie2 said,

    You will see that I revisited the site and managed to get a good specimen. I also have a nice spore print. I also planted a butt in some grass clippings with fingers very much crossed. Someone else mentioned the purple mycelium but I have not observed that so far.

    I look forward to hearing more about the Tricholoma as I am not familiar with them. Neither did I know of a relationship between Flammulina and snow. Good luck in tracking that one down.

  4. 6

    Elizabeth said,

    I didn’t know these were introduced. The ones I found in South West Victoria were reasonably deep into bushland where I wouldn’t expect to find introduced species. I may have mis-IDd. I’ll have to go back to my pictures tonight and have another look.

    • 7

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Buffy. I was drawing on a variety of sources that suggest that it is a naturalised species, such as Wiki for example. It is a Fungimap target too and in the section ‘weed status’ it is described as ‘exotic’. It does seem to be surprising to find it deep in bushland but then it is amazing how far introduced apecies can spread. Amanita muscaria took only a decade to spread through New Zealand and it is currently doing the same in WA, despite the fact that it is so far restricted to introduced tree hosts.

  5. 8

    […] To have a look at Blewits in Western Australia […]

  6. 9

    jsunlau said,

    On the note of Confusion with Cortinarius- Alan Rockefeller has a few slideshows from his trips to South America, Just search the name. If you have the time there is some interesting info on edible species.

  7. 10

    gibbo said,

    Hi morrie – blewits are just sensational to look at and eat.
    i have lepista nuda, saeva and sublilacina all in culture if you are interested.

  8. 11

    Jan said,

    Hi David, I have vivid purple mushroom??? Down at our bush property in Quindalup no idea what they are but if you are interested? Hey are up against a retaining rock wall, in a moist ,cool area and about 5cm in diam. Smell very mushroom like but that is the length of my knowledge

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