What You Should Know
Lactarius camphoratus is a smallish agaric with a dark red-brown cap, pale gills, and exudes white milk which savors of curry. It grows with conifers and deciduous trees, favoring acidic, well-drained soil.
This mushroom is edible when cooked thoroughly. In Germany and some European countries dried Curry Milkcaps are crushed and used as a condiment to flavor soups and sauces.
Lactarius camphoratus has a fragrant odor that has been described as similar to that of maple syrup or burned sugar. This alone is usually enough to distinguish this species from several rather similar species of Lactarius that produce relatively small reddish-brown to orange-brown fruiting bodies.
Other names: Curry-scented Milk Cap, Candy Cap, Kampfermilchling (German), Aromatic Milky, Lactaire camphré (French).
Lactarius camphoratus Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with conifers or hardwoods; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously, often in moss; spring, summer, and fall; widely distributed in eastern North America.
1-4 cm; convex, becoming broadly convex or centrally depressed, usually with a sharp central point ("papillate"); moist or dry; smooth or very finely dusted; dark reddish-brown, often fading to rusty brown or orangish brown; the margin sometimes becoming scalloped and/or lined with age.
Attached to the stem or running slightly down it; close or crowded; whitish to pale pinkish, often developing reddish to cinnamon tones with maturity but not staining from the milk.
1.5-6 cm long; up to about 1 cm thick; more or less equal; smooth or with hairs near the base; without potholes; colored like the cap, or paler, especially toward the apex.
Pale cinnamon to whitish; brittle and hard; not staining when sliced.
Milky white when young and fresh, but often whey-like or watery by maturity; not staining tissues--or, in some of my collections, staining tissues very faintly pinkish.
Odor and Taste
Odor like maple syrup or burned sugar (etc.), becoming stronger when the mushroom is dried; taste mild or slightly bitter.
Pale yellow or whitish.
Cap surface olive with KOH.
Spores 7-8.5 x 6-7.5 µ; subglobose to broadly ellipsoid; ornamentation 0.5-1.0 µ high, as isolated warts and scattered ridges that do not form consistent reticula. Pleuromacrocystidia rare to absent; to about 40 µ; not projecting. Cheilomacrocystidia rare to abundant; variable (subclavate, subcylindric. fusiform, irregular and nearly lobed, etc.); to about 40 X 6 µ. Pileipellis a hyphoepithelium.
Lactarius camphoratus Look-Alikes
Is very similar, but has watery latex, yellowish gills, and (more definitively) spores that are reticulate
Is a similar but larger species with reticulate spores.
Lactarius camphoratus Medicinal Properties
A hot water extract of L. camphoratus, screened for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activity, elicited 53.5% inhibition at the concentration of 1 mg/mL (Wang et al., 2007).
Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of L. camphoratus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 70% (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
Lactarius camphoratus Taxonomy and Etymology
The Curry Milkcap was described in 1792 by the French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard, who gave it the binomial scientific name Agaricus camphoratus. (Vast numbers of gilled fungi were dumped into the Agaricus genus in the early days of fungal taxonomy; most have since been moved to other genera leaving in the present-day Agaricus genus a much smaller number of gilled mushrooms that are sometimes referred to as the 'true mushrooms'.) It was the Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries who in 1838 transferred this milkcap to the genus Lactarius, making its scientific name Lactarius camphoratus, which is still the binomial name by which the Curry Milkcap is generally known today.
Lactarius camphoratus - Curry Milkcap in pine woodland, Wales UK
Synonyms of Lactarius camphoratus include Agaricus camphoratus Bull., Agaricus subdulcis ß camphoratus (Bull.) Fr., Lactarius cimicarius (Batsch) Gillet, Lactarius terreyi Berk. & Broome, and Lactarius camphoratus var. terreyi (Berk. & Broome) Cooke.
The generic name Lactarius means producing milk (lactating) - a reference to the milky latex that is exuded from the gills of milkcap fungi when they are cut or torn. The specific epithet camphoratus is a reference to the distinctive smell of this milkcap mushroom, which at the time its basionym was selected was considered to be like camphor - originally made from the sap of camphor trees and in the past used not only as a moth repellent but also in the manufacture of fireworks.
Lactarius camphoratus Video
All photos were taken by the Ultimate Mushroom team and can be used for your own purposes under the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.