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Lactarius hepaticus

[ Agaricomycetes > Russulales > Russulaceae > Lactarius . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Lactarius hepaticus is mycorrhizal with true pines (species of Pinus, which have bundled needles) and perhaps with other conifers. It features a dark reddish brown cap and stem, and milk that turns slowly yellowish--or at least stains white paper yellow. Apparently the North American version of Lactarius hepaticus has "less of a tendency to yellow on exposure to air" than the European version (Hesler & Smith, 1979). Other defining features include the cap's olive reaction to KOH, the lack of a distinctive odor, and microscopic features.

Lactarius nitidus Burlingham is a synonym.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with pines (species of Pinus) and possibly with other conifers; summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.

Cap: 3-9 cm; convex, becoming flat or shallowly depressed; dry or moist; smooth; dark brick red, liver red, reddish brown, or brown; without zones of color or texture, but the center often darker.

Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; whitish to pinkish or very pale tan; not bruising or discoloring.

Stem: 4-9 cm long; up to about 1 cm thick; more or less equal; dry; without potholes; smooth; colored like the cap.

Flesh: Thin; pale; not changing when sliced.

Milk: White; not changing on exposure to air, or turning yellowish; not staining tissues, or staining them yellowish; staining white paper yellow (often very slowly).

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste slightly to strongly acrid--but sometimes mild, especially in mature specimens.

Spore Print: Cream.

Chemical Reactions: KOH olive on cap surface.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7.5-9 x 6-7 µ; broadly ellipsoid; ornamentation under .5 µ high, as amyloid warts and ridges that sometimes form a partial reticulum. Pleuromacrocystidia fusoid; to about 60 µ long. Cheilocystidia similar; to about 35 µ long. Pileipellis a densely interwoven trichoderm; terminal cells short (10-45 µ long).

REFERENCES: Plowright, 1905. (Hesler & Smith, 1979; Phillips, 1991/2005; Heilmann-Clausen et al., 1998; McNeil, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 09300506.

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Lactarius hepaticus

Lactarius hepaticus

Lactarius hepaticus

Lactarius hepaticus

Lactarius hepaticus

Lactarius hepaticus

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Kuo, M. (2007, September). Lactarius hepaticus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: