Elite life



   Lactarius (sometimes called Milk Caps) is a large genus of mycorrhizal mushrooms that exude a "latex", or milk, when injured. In some species the milk is copious, and it almost seems to pour out of the mushroom when you slice it or damage the gills. In other species the milk can be scanty to almost nonexistent in older specimens that have grown in dry weather. Lactarius contains some good edibles, such as Lactarius indigo; some species that may be poisonous; a few that Scandinavian researchers believe may be carcinogenic; quite a few that are probably edible but are so bitter or acrid that no one would want to eat them; and a great many (the majority) for which edibility is not known.


Saffron Milk Cap, Red Pine Mushroom (Lactarius deliciosus)

   It grows under conifers, and its milk is orange, in some versions staining the cut surfaces reddish or orange, and in other versions not staining. Growing gregariously or scattered; summer and fall; widely distributed in northern and montane North America, uncommon in England, more frequent in Scotland. Edible and much esteemed in Spain.
   Cap 3-10 cm across, convex then shallowly funnel-shaped, with numerous small purplish-brick to salmon blotches arranged in narrow, concentric bands on a pale flesh or rosy buff background, becoming tinged greenish in places, slightly sticky, firm, brittle, margin incurved at first. Stem 30-60 x 15-20 mm, pale buff or vinaceous to orangy or salmon, sometimes with darker, shallow, spot-like depressions, becoming green in places. Flesh pale yellowish, carrot in places from the milk (after one hour or so) fading and finally dull greyish green. Gills slightly decurrent, closely spaced, pale pinkish apricot to saffron, becoming carrot and slowly dull pistachio green on bruising. Milk carrot; taste mild or slightly bitter. Spore print pale ochre. Spores elliptic, with thin to thickish ridges forming a fairly full network, 7-9 x 6-7 μm.

Lactarius corrugis

   Habitat singly or in small groups on soil under hardwoods in deciduous, coniferous, or mixed woods. Found in eastern North America. Season July-October. Edible.
   Cap 4-13 cm across, convex becoming depressed, sometimes with a distinctly wrinkled margin; dark reddish brown to yellowish brown, sometimes paler at the margin; dry and velvety. Gills adnate to subdecurrent, close, quite broad, some forking; white to pale yellowy or buff, brown when bruised. Stem 40-110 x 15-25 mm, solid; paler than cap, gray-brown sometimes tinged red-brown; dry, velvety. Flesh firm; white staining brown. Latex white, unchanging, abundant, staining tissues brown when cut. Odor slight. Taste mild. Spores globose, amyloid, 9-13 x 9-13 μm; ornamented with an almost complete reticulum, prominences 0.4-0.7 μm, high. Deposit white.

Lactarius hygrophoroides

   This beautiful milky cap is fairly easy to recognize; look for the orange to brownish orange cap, the very distant gills, the copious white milk that does not change color or stain the mushroom's parts, and the mild taste. Habitat singly or scattered on soil in deciduous woods. Found widely distributed in eastern North America. Season June-September.
   Cap 3-10 cm across, convex with a depressed center, becoming flatter and sometimes funnel-shaped, with an incurved then spreading margin; orangy brown to reddish brown; dry and velvety, becoming wrinkled in age. Gills adnate-subdecurrent, distant, broad; white becoming cream or pale yellowy fawn. Stem 30-50 x 5-15 mm, stuffed or solid; same color as cap or paler; dry with a white bloom. Flesh firm; white. Latex white, plentiful, unchanging, not staining. Odor mild. Taste mild. Spores ellipsoid, amyloid, 7.5-9.5 x 6-7.5 μm; ornamented with small warts connected by fine lines sometimes forming a broken reticulum, prominences 0.2-0.4 μm high. Deposit white.

Indigo Milky (Lactarius indigo)

   There is no mistaking this mushroom. It is a truly beautiful, indigo blue species. Although most field guides list it as "widely distributed" and "common". Habitat scattered or in groups on soil in oak and pine woods. Common in the southeastern North America, rarer farther north. Season July-October. Edible.

   Cap 5-15 cm across, convex-depressed with an inrolled margin at first; indigo blue when fresh, fading to grayish, then having a silvery luster, with deep green areas where bruised; sticky, smooth, zoned. Gills adnate, close, broad; indigo blue or paler to yellowish from the maturing spores, staining green when bruised. Stem 20-80 x 1-25 mm, hard becoming hollow, often tapered toward the base; indigo blue to silver blue, spotted at times; sticky but soon dry. Flesh whitish, promptly turning indigo blue when cut, staining greenish. Latex deep indigo blue, becoming dark green on exposure to the air. Odor mild. Taste mild or slightly bitter or slightly acrid. Spores broadly ellipsoid to subglobose, amyloid, 7-9 x 5.5-7.5 μm, ornamented with a complete or broken reticulum, prominences 0.4-0.5 μm high. Deposit cream.

Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)

   The mushroom is primarily found in parts of western North America, growing in forests and on the ground. The mushroom usually finds cover under conifer trees, mainly pines. Habitat: Scattered to gregarious under Douglas Fir; fruiting from late fall to mid-winter.
   Pileus: Cap 5.0-12 cm broad, convex, margin inrolled when young, becoming plano-convex to shallowly infundibuliform in age; surface viscid when moist, banded concentrically with shades of orange; often developing green discolorations in age; flesh thick, brittle, bleeding a sparse, dark red latex when cut; taste and odor mild.
   Lamellae: Gills decurrent, narrow, close to crowded, dull orange, bleeding a dark red latex.
   Stipe: Stipe 2-5 cm tall, 1.0-2.5 cm thick, solid and brittle when young, hollow in age, equal to tapered at the base; surface smooth, unpolished, dull orange-buff, bruising green where handled.
   Spores: Spores 7-9 x 6-7.5 μm, ovoid with amyloid reticulations; spore print pale yellow. Edibility: Edible.

Lactarius scrobiculatus

   Habitat scattered to gregarious under conifers, particularly in mountain areas. The distinctive fruiting bodies of this large, inedible fungus are locally common in forests throughout Europe and North America. Season September-October.
   Cap 7-20 cm across, broadly convex with a depressed disc and long inrolled, hairy margin, becoming flatter and broadly funnel-shaped with a smooth margin; pale ochre-yellow to yellow-orange, darker in the center with faint concentric bands of color, bruising dingy brown; very sticky, slimy when dry, scaly, often in rings. Gills adnate to decurrent, quite crowded, broad; whitish with a faint yellow or pink tint, bruising pale pinky-brown. Stem 30-60 x 15-35 mm, sometimes tapering to a root-like base; tawny with glazed, yellow-brown spots and some white mycelium on the base; finely downy and pitted. Flesh rigid; white. Latex white, plentiful, quickly changing to sulphur yellow. Odor fruity. Taste burningly acrid. Spores broadly ellipsoid, amyloid, 7.1-8.6 x 5.9-6.8 μm; ornamented with warts, some paired, and fine lines making a sparse reticulum, prominences 0.5-l μm high. Deposit bright ochre-yellow with a slight flesh tint.

Variegated Milky Cap (Lactarius subpurpureus)

   Like several of the milky caps with colored milk, Lactarius subpurpureus is fairly easy to identify. Key features include the deep red milk, the pinkish to vinaceous zoned or spotted cap, and the tendency of the cap and gills to bruise and discolor green. The caps fade fairly quickly. Edible for some people, but best avoided. Habitat frequent under pines. Found in eastern North America, south to North Carolina, west to Wisconsin. Season August-October.
  Cap 3-10 cm across, convex then flat to depressed; with concentric bands of color wine-red to silvery ochre with age, staining green; smooth, slightly viscid when wet. Gills adnate; wine-red at first, then paler, bruising green. Stem 30-80 x 6-15 mm, same color as the cap but with darker red spots; smooth, slightly sticky. Flesh white or pinkish, staining red then slowly green. Latex wine-red. Odor pleasant. Taste slightly peppery. Spores ellipsoid, amyloid, 8-11 x 6.5-8 μm; ornamented with a reticulum. Deposit pale cream.

Vachette, Vachotte (Lactarius volemus)

   Lactarius volemus is an attractive mushroom, fairly easily recognized by its brownish orange colorations, the above-mentioned white milk that stains everything in sight brown, and its tendency to develop a fishy odor that increases in fishiness over time after the mushroom has been picked. Habitat under both coniferous and broad-leaved trees. Season summer to autumn. Uncommon. Edible: good. Distribution: Europe and America where many varieties have been described.
   Cap 5-11 cm across, convex with a depression, coloured apricot to tawny, fleshy, firm, shortly velvety to smooth, not sticky. Stem 40-120 x 10-30 mm, concolorous with cap, but usually paler, shortly velvety to smooth, solid. Flesh whitish, firm. Gills slightly decurrent, narrow, somewhat closely spaced, easily breaking, pale golden yellow, bruising brown. Gill cystidia abundant, with thick, wavy walls. Milk white, abundant; taste mild. Smell fishy. Spore print whitish.  Spores spherical; ridges thick, a few thin, forming a complete network, 8-10 x 8-9.5 μm. Cap surface cellular, cap and stem surfaces with spindle-shaped, tapering cystidia.


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