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Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

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

by Michael Kuo

This western Lactarius grows under high-elevation conifers, and features an orange cap and stem. It is medium in size, and its white milk does not change color when exposed to air. The gills develop brownish stains, and the surface of the stem lacks potholes. Microscopic features (see below) will help confirm identification.

Similar mushrooms include Lactarius rufus, which is more red and decidedly more acrid; and Lactarius subflammeus, which has a scarlet cap that becomes orange as it matures, gills that do not discolor brown, and an acrid taste. In Europe, Lactarius aurantiacus is very similar.

Lactarius luculentus var. luculentus, described from Oregon (Burlingham, 1936) under Douglas-fir, has duller cap colors and a slightly acrid taste.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with conifers at high elevation in the western mountains, and with Sitka spruce in coastal forests; summer and fall; Colorado to Washington and California.

Cap: 2-6 cm; convex becoming flat or shallowly depressed, often with a central bump; dry or moist; smooth; bright orange, becoming duller orange with age; sometimes with a brownish center; consistently without concentric zones of color or texture.

Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; whitish to orangish or pinkish; often developing brownish stains and discolorations.

Stem: 2-6 cm long; under 1 cm thick; more or less equal; dry or moist; without potholes; smooth; colored like the cap or a little paler.

Flesh: Whitish to pale yellowish; not changing when sliced.

Milk: White; not changing on exposure; staining the gills brownish.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste mild, bitter, or slightly acrid--but not strongly acrid.

Spore Print: White.

Chemical Reactions: KOH olive on cap surface.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-10 x 7-8.5 µ; broadly ellipsoid; ornamentation under 1 µ high, as amyloid warts and scattered amyloid connecting lines that do not form reticula. Pleuromacrocystidia up to 90 x 15 µ; fusoid. Cheilocystidia similar but shorter. Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm, arising from a layer of thin, filamentous hyphae.

REFERENCES: Hesler & Smith, 1979. (Phillips, 1991/2005; Methven, 1997.) Herb. Kuo 08180701. Herb. DBG: RMNP 2008-039, 2008-057.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

Lactarius luculentus var. laetus

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Kuo, M. (2011, March). Lactarius luculentus var. laetus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: