One of the distinguishing characteristics of this genus is the cobweb-like attachment between the cap and the stem (the cortina), giving them the common name Webcap. There is also a veil, which covers the whole mushroom when it is minute, remnants of which can often be seen at the base of the stem and on the cap edge. It is essential to have immature specimens in any collection, as the distinctive violet, cream, or olivaceous colours of the young gills are important to help distinguish the species; the gills quickly turn rust-red as the spores start to mature. Cortinarius is the largest genus of the larger fungi in Britain, and indeed all over the world, and has been divided into seven subgenera.
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