What You Should Know
Lactarius pyrogalus is a species of inedible mushroom in genus Lactarius. It is grayish and differentiated from another grey Lactarius by its widely spaced, yellow gills. It is found on the forest floor in mixed woodland, especially at the base of hazel trees. It is pale at first becoming deep ochre yellow when mature and differentiated from other similar Lactarius by its widely-spaced, yellowish gills. It is found on the forest floor in mixed woodland, especially in association with hazel trees. The milk has a particularly hot taste - hence its common name.
Other names: Fiery Milkcap
Lactarius pyrogalus Mushroom Identification
2.5 to 9cm in diameter, convex and then depressed, the cap is cream to pale grayish ochre, not usually zoned but sometimes very faintly zoned; smooth; slightly viscid when wet.
Shortly decurrent and moderately spaced, the gills are creamy buff with a pinkish tinge. This milkcap releases copious amounts of white latex that dries grey with a greenish tinge. It is extremely hot tasting.
Very variable in diameter from 0.8 to 2cm, and 2.5 to 6,5cm long, the stem is more or less cylindrical or tapering in slightly at the base. The stem surface is smooth and paler than the cap.
Broadly ellipsoidal, 7-8 x 5.5-7µm; ornamented with warts and connecting broad ridges to 1µm in height forming a zebra-like network.
Odor and Taste
Slight fruity smell; the milk (latex) and flesh taste extremely hot.
Habitat & Ecological Role
The Fiery Milkcap is a mycorrhizal mushroom found under hazel, often in coppice woodland but occasionally beside hedgerows.
Lactarius glyciosmus smells of coconut; it has a zoned cap and occurs nearly always under birch trees.
Lactarius pyrogalus Taxonomy and Etymology
The Fiery Milkcap was described scientifically in 1792 by pioneering French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard, who gave it the binomial scientific name Agaricus pyrogalus. The Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in 1838 transferred this species to the genus Lactarius, thus establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Lactarius pyrogalus.
Synonyms of Lactarius pyrogalus include Agaricus pyrogalus Bull., and Agaricus lactifluus var. pyrogalus (Bull.) Pers.
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 pyrogalus is a Latin adjective meaning fire milk - a reference to the extremely acrid latex within the flesh of this innocuous-looking milkcap.
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