- Edibility 3/5 – tasty with a deep woodsy mushroom flavour, though a little flimsy and the stipes are generally too tough. Deceivers are known to bio-accumulate arsenic where it is present, but this shouldn’t be a worry provided you aren’t picking it on industrial locations, or eating it in industrial quantities!
- Identification 4/5 – Cap 1-4cm, amethyst purple when damp, drying to greyish or even pale hues, at which point the amethyst colour becomes hard to see; gills broadly spaced, often partial (ie. not the full radius from cap edge to stipe); stipe concolorous with cap and gills, narrow, hollow. Pulled from the ground, they usually come with some cottony looking fibres attached to the stipe base.
- Do Not Confuse With: Lilac Bonnet (not edible as it contains small quantities of muscarine) is much paler (pink, not amethyst) ; Lilac fibrecap (poisonous) is also much paler (though remember, amethyst deceivers can look paler in dry weather!)and has snuff brown spores. Lilac bonnet is easily distinguished because it has white gills that become walnut brown as it spores mature.
- Less Troublesome Lookalikes: Near relations are the deceiver (laccaria lacata) – a tan brown capped version of the amethyst deceiver, with pale gills beneath (also edible, though being small, brown and variable in its appearance, is generally harder to confidently identify). The twisted deceiver (one of my favourite mushroom names!) and bicolour deceiver are equally edible near relations, that do just what their names suggest!
- Distribution 5/5 – Very common, often in huge numbers
- Season: July-November
- Habitat: Any woodland especially deciduous, most commonly beech
- Ecology: The huge constellations of these that appear in leaf litter suggest that they might be saprotrophic (rotting) fungi, but in fact they are mycorrhizal, forming complex symbiosis with their partner trees, though not especially fussy about who they trade with!
Though a little flimsy of texture, these mushrooms are well worth picking for their beautiful colour, which is even more striking in a basket next to chanterelles – which they can often be found growing alongside. Sadly the colour fades on cooking.