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Lactarius subpurpureus

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

by Michael Kuo

Like several species of Lactarius with colored milk, Lactarius subpurpureus is fairly easy to identify. Key features include the deep red milk, the pinkish to vinaceous zoned or spotted cap, and the tendency of the cap and gills to bruise and discolor green. The caps fade fairly quickly, and are often dull buff when collected. Lactarius subpurpureus is found under eastern hemlock.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with eastern hemlock and perhaps with other conifers; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; summer and fall; fairly widely distributed in the upper Midwest, the Appalachians, and northeastern North America.

Cap: 3-10 cm; at first convex; becoming flat, with a shallow central depression, or vase-shaped; dry or slightly sticky; the margin naked, sometimes lined in age; bald; zoned with concentric bands of vinaceous red and pale pink, but soon fading to pinkish buff; sometimes more spotted than zoned; bruising green.

Gills: Attached to the stem or running slightly down it; nearly distant; vinaceous red and typically remaining so longer than the cap; bruising and spotting green.

Stem: 3-8 cm long; 0.5-1.5 cm thick; colored like the cap or paler; more or less equal; sometimes spotted or pitted; becoming hollow.

Flesh: Whitish to pink; staining red, and eventually green.

Milk: Deep red; scanty.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste mild to faintly peppery.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: Pale cream.

Microscopic Features: Spores 8-12 x 6.5-9 µ; broadly ellipsoid; ornamentation 0.2-0.5 µ high, as amyloid lines and warts that form zebroid patterns and, occasionally, partially reticulated areas. Pleuromacrocystidia fusoid to subcylindric; to about 90 x 10 µ. Cheilocystidia clavate; to about 36 x 8 µ. Pileipellis an ixocutis.

REFERENCES: Peck, 1878. (Saccardo, 1887; Coker, 1918; Kauffman, 1918; Hesler & Smith, 1979; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Nuytinck et al., 2006.) Herb. Kuo 09040205.

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Lactarius subpurpureus

Lactarius subpurpureus

Lactarius subpurpureus

Lactarius subpurpureus

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