Winter Russula

(Russula cremoricolor)

Conservation Status
Winter Russula
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Winter Russula is a medium-sized gilled mushroom. It occurs in North America and Central America. In the United States it occurs in the east from Maine to Florida, west to Minnesota and eastern Texas, on the West Coast from northern Washington to southern California, and in the Mountain states from southern Montana to northern New Mexico. It is uncommon in Minnesota. It is found in late fall, in mixed forests and woodlands, usually in groups but not clustered (gregarious), sometimes alone or scattered. It has a mutually beneficial relationship (mycorrhizal) with the tiny rootlets of trees, absorbing sugars and amino acids while helping the tree absorb water.

When it first appears, the cap is convex. The upper surface is smooth and dry but becomes sticky (viscid) when wet. As it ages the cap expands, becoming broadly convex to flat, sometimes shallowly depressed in the center. Mature caps are 1¼ to 4 (3 to 10 cm) in diameter. The margins are usually lined, sometimes only faintly lined. The upper skin peels away easily about halfway to the center. There are two color forms. The pale form is cream-colored or pale yellowish to nearly white. The red form is bright red. Both forms are often darker in the center.

The gills are white and fairly closely spaced. They may be broadly attached, narrowly attached, or not attached to the stalk. They sometimes turn cream-colored with age.

The stalk is dry, entirely white, fairly smooth, 1¼ to 4 (3 to 10 cm) long, and to 1 (10 to 25 mm) thick.

The flesh is white and brittle. It does not change color when sliced. It is not poisonous, but it has an acrid taste.

The spore print is white.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts

Mixed forests and woodlands




Late fall


Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.

This map includes signtings for Russula cremoricolor, Russula emetica, and Russula silvicola (see Taxonomy below).




Uncommon in Minnesota

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Division Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subdivision Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Agaricomycetidae  
  Order Russulales  
  Family Russulaceae (milkcaps, brittlegills, and allies)  


Russula (brittlegills)  



In North America the red form of this species was formerly thought to be Russula emetica. Later, the name Russula silvicola was created for eastern red-capped populations found in a different habitat, and that name was eventually applied to the West Coast populations as well. Recent DNA analysis shows that both are actually the red form of Russula cremoricolor. Russula emetica is now considered to be a European species that does not occur in North America. Russula silvicola is not considered a synonym of Russula cremoricolor because the name Russula silvicola was probably misapplied to the west coast populations.






Common Names


Creamy Russula

Winter Russula












A symbiotic, usually beneficial relationship between a fungus and the tiny rootlets of a plant, usually a tree.





What’s in a Name?

The species epithet cremoricolor means “cream colored”, a description that clearly does not apply to the red-capped form of this mushroom. However, the scientific name is older than, and therefore has priority over, other names that have been applied to this species.

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    Winter Russula      

Honey Fae (Farah)


blue stain fungi … found next to the Russula

Dakota County, MN

  Winter Russula  
    Winter Russula   Winter Russula  
    Winter Russula   Winter Russula  
    Winter Russula   Winter Russula  
    Winter Russula   Winter Russula  






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Visitor Sightings

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Location: St. Cloud, MN (Benton County)

Winter Russula

  Honey Fae (Farah)

Location: Dakota County, MN

blue stain fungi … found next to the Russula

Winter Russula

  Honey Fae (Farah)

Location: Duluth, MN


Winter Russula





Created: 1/5/2023

Last Updated:

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