What You Should Know
Lactarius sanguifluus is a species of fungus in the family Russulaceae. It is a medium-sized to rather large species, associated exclusively with pines and exuding a vinaceous red latex when cut. The fruit bodies have convex, orange to gray-pinkish caps with a central depression and slightly incurved margins (when young).
First described from France in 1811, the species was given its current name by Elias Fries in 1838 when he transferred it to Lactarius. Found in Asia, Mediterranean Africa, and Europe, fruit bodies (mushrooms) grow scattered or in groups on the ground under conifers, especially Douglas fir.
When bruised or cut, the fruit bodies ooze a blood-red to purple latex that slowly turns greenish upon exposure to air.
Other names: Bloody Milk Cap.
Lactarius sanguifluus Edibility
The fruit bodies of Lactarius sanguifluus are edible, and choice. This was noted by Paulet in his original description of the species, who wrote: "This fungus is highly prized for use by those who are acquainted with it, it keeps well: I kept them for a whole year, it hardens without spoiling, then it takes on a taste of morels. The best way to eat is to cook it in the frying pan or on the grill with oil or butter & salt: it does not take long to cook".
The mushrooms are sold in rural markets in France, Spain, Turkey, and Yunnan Province, China. They are also collected by locals in the upper valley of the Serchio River in central Italy.
In Spain, where the mushroom is esteemed as a culinary delicacy in Catalan cuisine, it is known as níscalos (in Spanish) or rovelló (in Catalan).
In Cyprus, it is known as γαιματάς (meaning "the bloody one") and it is widely collected by the locals, but considered inferior to the saffron milk cap (Lactarius deliciosus).
In India, young specimens are consumed along with L. deliciosus; and some consider L. sanguifluus to have a better flavor than its more well-known relative. Its English common name is the "bloody milkcap".
Lactarius sanguifluus Mushroom Identification
The fruit bodies have convex caps with a central depression, reaching a diameter of 4–7.5 cm (1.6–3.0 in). The cap surface is smooth and sticky, and the margins are curved downward, even as the mushroom matures. Its color is pinkish-buff to orangish, sometimes with patches of grayish or pale greenish-gray, especially where the surface has been bruised.
The somewhat crowded gills have an adnate to the slightly decurrent attachment to the stipe. They are pale vinaceous with a pale pinkish-buff edge.
The cylindrical stipe measures 2.0–3.5 cm (0.8–1.4 in) long by 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in) thick. Its smooth surface is colored pale pinkish-buff to pale grayish-buff, sometimes with brownish irregular dots. The flesh ranges from firm to fragile: in the stipe, it is soft and pale pinkish buff; under the cap cuticle it is brick-colored, or brownish-red just above the gills. Its taste ranges from mild to slightly bitter, and it lacks any significant odor.
The spores are roughly spherical to ellipsoidal, measuring 7.9–9.5 by 8.0–8.8 µm. They feature surface ornamentations up to 0.8 µm high and an almost complete reticulum comprising broad, rounded ridges. The basidia (spore-bearing cells) are somewhat cylindrical, four-spored, and measure 50–70 by 9–11 µm. The cap cuticle is an ixocutis (made of gelatinous hyphae that run parallel to the cap surface) up to 60 µm thick, with hyphae that are 2–6 wide that are usually branched and interwoven.
Lactarius sanguifluus Look-Alikes
Formerly considered a variety of L. sanguifluus, is quite similar in appearance. In general, L. vinosus can be distinguished by the more vinaceous-red color (lacking orange tones) of its cap, stipe, and gills, the more distinctly downwards-tapered stipe, and the more intense staining of the latex on the cap tissue. The two species can also be distinguished microscopically by differences in the ornamentation of their spore surfaces. L. vinosus has an incomplete reticulum on the spore surface, with ridges that have a wider degree of variation in thickness.
Has a characteristic orange latex that turns wine-red in 5–10 minutes after exposure to air. Compared to L. sanguifluus, the fruit bodies of L. semisanguifluus are smaller, have tinges of violet in the cap, and develop a greenish discoloration with age.
Photo 1 - Author: Irene Andersson (irenea) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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