There are more mushrooms in the genus Cortinarius than in any other genus. Many are undescribed. Their edibility is uncertain in most cases. All corts are mycorrhizal with trees.

They are called ‘Cortinarius' for the cobweb-like ‘cortina’ or partial veil that protects the immature gills. Spore print is rust-brown.

Eating any cortinarius (except for C. caperatus, assuming you can identify it with certainty) is not recommended as we haven’t studied them all for edibility. Some of those studied contain a toxin called orellanine, which damages the kidneys after a latent period of between 2 and 14 days after being consumed.

15% of cases of orellanine poisoning from eating corts have been fatal, which is a good reason for making a spore print.

The genus Cortinarius originally included eight subdivisions, four of which have been subsumed. The following subgenera are accepted: 

MYXACIUM - species having both a viscid or glutenous cap and stem

PHLEGMACIUM -species with a glutinous cap, but a dry stem.

CORTINARIUS - dry cap and stem with bright pigmentation

TALAMONIA - hygrophanous, dry cap and stip and dull pigmentation 

To see enlarged versions of each photo represented in this family, click on the first photo and then click on the textual links above each photo to get to the next one.