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Hypomyces lactifluorum: The Lobster Mushroom
by Michael Kuo
The "lobster mushroom" is actually a fungus that has parasitized a Russula or Lactarius mushroom. There's really no mistaking it: the fungus creates a beautiful, bright orange covering over the mushroom, the surface of which is rather hard, and dotted with tiny pimples. Eventually, the fungus even begins to transform the shape of the host mushroom, twisting it into odd contortions.
Ecology: Parasitic on species of Russula and Lactarius. According to several authors (Phillips, 1991; Lincoff, 1992), only white species in these genera (like Russula brevipes or Lactarius piperatus) are attacked. Personal experience leads me to doubt this--but identifying the host is no easy task, and I have never put much effort into it. Growing alone or gregariously in woods; widely distributed and frequently encountered in many areas; summer and fall.
Fruit Body: A hard, orange covering; attacking the host rapidly and soon engulfing it entirely; the surface dotted with tiny pimples.
Microscopic Features: 35-50 x 4-5 µ; spindle-shaped; warted; colorless; septate (with a separating wall). See the bottom illustration.
REFERENCES: (Schweinitz, 1822) Tulasne, 1860. (Weber, & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; States, 1990; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Rogerson & Samuels, 1994; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; USDA, 2006; Kuo, 2007.)
Further Online Information:
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2003, January). Hypomyces lactifluorum: The lobster mushroom. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hypomyces_lactifluorum.html