Around 750 worldwide species of ectomycorrhizal mushrooms compose the genus Russula. They are typically common, fairly large, and brightly colored – making them one of the most recognizable genera among mycologists and mushroom collectors. Their distinguishing characteristics include usually brightly coloured caps, a white to dark yellow spore print, brittle, attached gills, an absence of latex, and absence of partial veil or volva tissue on the stem. Microscopically, the genus is characterised by the amyloid ornamented spores and flesh (trama) composed of spherocysts. Members of the related Lactarius genus have similar characteristics but emit a milky latex when their gills are broken. The genus was described by Christian Hendrik Persoon in 1796.