Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lactarius - Mushrooms that have Milk

The mushrooms in the genus Lactarius are fun to try to identify. They have gills that are easy to break, and when you break them, they 'lactate'. Yes, that's right, they drip milk.

Lactarius corrugatus
Lactarius corrugatus gills and milk

 It is not known why they drip milk, but presumably it could be a deterrent for predators. The color of this milk can be an identifying feature. It also comes in clear, yellow, red, and green.

Taste is another identifying characteristic of Lactarius. Some of them are spicy, like pepper.  Several species have been given the name 'Candy Cap' because they are edible and smell like maple syrup when dry. However, you should also go out with an experienced mycologist when you taste fungi. You now have the tools to identify the genus Lactarius.