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Russula

Field characters

Pileus: convex to planar in age, often with a shallow depression, brittle.
Annulus: none (usually)
Stipe: often white, stout and chalky-brittle.
Stature: Tricholomatoid
Ecology: usually mycorrhizal, on ground.

Micro characters

Basidiospores: ovoid to short ellipsoid, with amyloid spines or reticulations
Hyphae: usually without clamp connections
Cystidia: cheilo- and pleurocystidia present a gleocystidia (macrocystidia)
Spore Print: white to cream
Lamellae: attached, with sphaerocysts (making them brittle), with lamellulae
Lamellar Trama: various, not convergent or divergent.
Pileipellis: usually complex

Notes

Russula and the closely related Lactarius are very common in the Berkshires where numerous species of each are found in both summer and fall. Both are easy to recognize by the beginner.

In Singer, 1986's key, he separates the two by the presence of sphaerocysts in the lamellae of Russula only, and latex in Lactarius only. He goes on to say that in dried specimens, one has to use microcharacters (e.g. sections of lamellar trama) to differentiate them.

Identification to species is another matter. It is a big genus with over 200 in the USA.