What You Should Know
Lactarius subdulcis is an edible mushroom in the genus Lactarius. It is brown, with a large number of gills and a particularly thin layer of flesh in the cap. Mycorrhizal, the mushroom is found from late summer to late autumn at the base of beech trees in small groups or individually, where it is one of the two most common species of fungi.
Alternatively, it can be found in large groups in fields, sometimes with more than a hundred individual mushrooms. It is found in Europe, and, despite previous research to the contrary, is absent in North America.
Although considered edible, it is not particularly useful as food due to its ivy-like taste and the fact that more choice mushrooms will be easily found at the same time. L. subdulcis is known for its abundant, sweet-tasting milk that, unlike the latex of some of its relatives, does not stain fabric yellow.
Other names: Mild Milkcap, Beech Milk Cap.
Lactarius subdulcis Mushroom Identification
Variable from reddish-brown to dark cinnamon with a paler buff margin; convex, center becoming depressed with a small umbo; 3 to 7cm across.
White maturing to a pinkish buff; adnate or slightly decurrent; moderately crowded. Latex is white, unchanging; abundant; tastes initially mild, becoming slightly bitter.
Slightly paler than the cap but much lighter at the apex; cylindrical, base slightly clavate; 4 to 7cm long, 0.6 to 1.3cm diameter; no stem ring.
Ellipsoidal, 7.5-9.5 x 6.5-8µm; ornamented with warts up to 1µm tall joined by narrow ridges to form a well-developed network.
Cream with a slight salmon-pink tinge.
Odor and Taste
No significant odor; taste initially mild and then sweet but eventually becoming slightly bitter and acrid.
Habitat & Ecological role
Mycorrhizal, under Beech trees and occasionally other hardwoods.
Lactarius blennius, the Beech Milkcap, is much greyer.
Lactarius subdulcis Taxonomy and Etymology
The Mild Milkcap was described in 1801 by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, who gave it the binomial scientific name Agaricus lactifluus var. subdulcis. It was British mycologist Samuel Frederick Gray (1766 - 1828) who in 1821 transferred this species to the genus Lactarius and raised it to full species status as Lactarius subdulcis.
Synonyms: Agaricus lactifluus, Agaricus subdulcis, Galorrheus subdulcis, Lactarius oculatus, Lactifluus subdulcis.
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 subdulcis means 'under sweet' - a reference to the initial mild then sweet taste that is later followed by a slight bitterness.
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