Its not uncommon to see a carpet of laccaria when you head into a pine forest, although there are many species of laccaria in Australia they are all edible. In my opinion they are quite under rated and hold up well to frying and cooking in general due to its sinuous/fibrous stem. Although they are quite small it does not take long to gather enough for a meal.
My personal favourite way to eat them is to pickle and enjoy as an antipasto.
Laccaria are mycorrhizal meaning they grown on the roots of the host trees.
This mushroom grows in close proximity to pines and deciduous woodland trees but can really grow in abundance in pine forests.
Laccaria's meaning in Latin is varnished or shiny.
This is a good mushroom for beginners to identify due to easy access to pine forests and also their abundance within.
Laccaria's can vary quite considerable in colour from browns to pinks to purple have gills and are quite small mushrooms with a tough stem. Where you find them you will notice that some will tend to grow over the top of others, This means that spores will often be found on the tops of the smaller mushrooms adding to the chance of positively identifying them in the field.
THE CAP can range in colour from browns to pinks to purple.
The Cap can range in size from 0.5cm- 5cm starting out convexed and later becoming depressed with a wavey contorted margin.
Quite often you can see abnormalities in this mushroom possibly due to the diesel machinery used in the forests themselves, there will be many growing with an upturned cap ontop of the main cap! (see below)
THE GILLS are pinky red in colour and quite distinctive to look at due to the broadness of the gills. The gills also have smaller gills interspersed between them (see gill pic top left)
THE STEM is usually around 5cm-10cm long and 0.5cm-0.8cm in diameter, it is also cylindrical in shape. The stem itself is quite firm and fibrous and if you cut it lengthways you will see that it will be hollow inside. (see bottom left cross section pic)
There are lookalikes to this mushroom.
Gallerina hypnorum being one.
please use this reference as a tool for identification only and never eat any mushroom unless you do your own research and you are 100% sure. Remember if in doubt leave it out!