Issacs Archives

Clitocybe nuda -bluet [sic]

    The bluet has always been a popular mushroom on the Pacific Coast and in the east, but its occurrence here in the Southwest is always uncertain. In one of our wetter seasons, however, it will put in an appearance. In New Mexico one finds Clitocybe nuda in mixed conifer woods or with aspen. Virtually all of my collections have been made in the Jemez mountains, but I suspect one can find the it in a variety of locations if conditions are right.
    Our variant generally has a very pale purplish tan pileus with gills and stipe somewhat more purple. The deep purple form so common on the West Coast is very rare here. Among the considerable number of notable edibles, I find this one very good. It holds its form and color well in cooking and has a very subtle but excellent flavor.
    The various names applied to this agaric suggest a long and somewhat argumentative history. Lepista was created to contain mushrooms with ornamented spores, pinkish to flesh colored spore deposits, and attached but not decurrent gills. Bigelow and Smith reduced/submerged Lepista into a section of Clitocybe for they felt these characteristics intergraded to a degree that weakened the separation of these two genera.
    I personally do not see that anything is gained by "lumping" these two genera when, for the most part, they are readily separable. Bigelow (__) redefined Leucopaxillus to exclude Leucopaxillus giganteus due to its "weak" amyloid reaction and retained the remainder of Leucopaxilli with amyloid spores as a distinct genus. So it might be with Clitocybe nuda and its closest relatives. Mushroom genera are largely human constraints, and the day of the huge unwieldy genera is past. What is needed is more careful work on reliable traits to mark functional separation of mushroom genera. Great strides have been made in recent years, but there are still problems with defining certain groups of mushrooms, and this is an example of such a problem.

Bill Isaacs
dmw . 2o23-o1-3o

• A common name for the C.nuda is "Blewit." it's unknown whether Bill Isaacs' "Bluet" was a variation or just a mis-spelling.
• Learn more about C.nuda at MushroomExpert.Com.