Lactarius vietus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Lactarius vietus Mushroom
Lactarius vietus is a species of fungus in the family Russulaceae. It produces moderately sized and brittle mushrooms, which grow on the forest floor or rotting wood. The flattened-convex cap can vary in shape, sometimes forming the shape of a wide funnel. It is typically grey, but the color varies. The species has crowded, light-colored gills, which produce white milk. The spore print is typically whitish but also varies considerably.
This mushroom typically has a strong, acrid taste and has been described as inedible, but other authors have described them as consumable after boiling. L. vietus feeds by forming an ectomycorrhizal relationship with surrounding trees, and it favors birch. It grows in autumn months and is fairly common in Europe, North America, and eastern Asia.
Lactarius vietus milk has a very hot taste, and the mushroom lacks a distinctive smell. Although described by many mycologists as inedible. Some authorities suggest that this drab, gregarious mushroom is edible provided it is boiled thoroughly, but there are better treats to be had after a fungus foray. Please note also that some sources list this milkcap as inedible and possibly poisonous.
Other names: Grey Milkcap.
Lactarius vietus Identification
4 to 8cm in diameter, convex, and then centrally depressed, the caps are pale purplish-grey or buff-grey and slimy when wet. Beneath the cap cuticle, the flesh is white or pale buff and rather brittle.
Adnate or very shortly decurrent, the crowded gills are white or pale yellow, turning brown when bruised. When damaged, the gills release white milk that dries smoke-grey on the gills.
5 to 10mm in diameter and 5 to 7cm tall, the stems are smooth and cylindrical; they are rather brittle and easily broken.
Subspherical to broadly ellipsoidal, 7-9.5 x 5.5-7.5 µm; ornamented with warts and ridges up to 0.8um tall that form a partial and often well-developed closed mesh or reticulum.
Pale cream, but rather variable in tone.
Fairly frequent; often in quite large groups.
Lactarius vietus Look-Alikes
Is often a greeny-grey color with a cap banded by droplet-like blotches, and it is very slimy during wet weather.
Is similar in appearance. In color, it is a pale pink-buff, and its flesh turns a violet-lilac colour when cut. The white milk has a mild taste.
A species described by Fries but not often mentioned by the mycological community for some time after his death is also similar. Meinhard Moser, examining the identity of L. mammosus, concluded that it "is certainly more closely related to L. vietus than to L. fuscus, but differs in habit and color. The spores are slightly longer and the sculptures are less pronounced in L. vietus."
Lactarius vietus Taxonomy & Etymology
The Grey Milkcap was described in 1821 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who gave it the binomial scientific name Agaricus vietus.
It was also Fries who, in 1838, transferred this woodland mushroom species to its present genus, thereby establishing its name as Lactarius vietus, which is still its generally accepted scientific name today.
Synonyms of Lactarius vietus include Agaricus vietus Fr., Galorrheus vietus (Fr.) P.Kumm., Lactarius trivialis var. gracilis Peck, Lactarius varius Peck, Lactifluus varius (Peck) Kuntze, Lactifluus vietus (Fr.) Kuntze, Lactifluus parvus (Peck) Kuntze, Lactarius parvus Peck, Lactarius paludestris Britzelm., and Lactarius vietus var. paludestris (Britzelm.) Killerm.
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 vietus means shrunken or wrinkled.
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