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Lactarius volemus

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

by Michael Kuo

Lactarius volemus is an attractive mushroom, fairly easily recognized by its brownish orange colorations, its white milk--which stains paper, your hands, and everything in sight brown--and its tendency to develop a fishy odor that increases in fishiness over time after the mushroom has been picked. Its cap is relatively bald, and only slightly wrinkled at maturity, separating it from the similar Lactarius corrugis, which has a cap that appears covered with thin, whitish to grayish felt when young and, at maturity, often becomes prominently corrugated. Lactarius hygrophoroides is similar in appearance, but has distant gills and milk that does not turn the whole world brown.

Lactarius volemus var. flavus (illustrated at the bottom) is found under oaks and in pine-oak woods from Texas to Tennessee and Alabama; it features a yellow cap and stem.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with oaks and other hardwoods, as well as conifers; growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; summer and fall; widely distributed in eastern North America.

Cap: 3-13 cm; at first convex with an inrolled margin; becoming flat, with a central depression, shallowly vase-shaped, or (rarely) with a slight bump over the disc, the margin even; smooth or slightly wrinkled, but usually finely velvety to the touch, at least when young; brownish orange, orangish brown, or sometimes lighter--or sometimes darker (approaching deep brownish red); without concentric zones of color, but often darker towards the center.

Gills: Attached to the stem or running slightly down it; close; creamy white; discoloring brown where injured; often forking near the margin.

Stem: 5-10 cm long; 0.5-2.5 cm thick; colored like the cap or paler; equal or tapering to base; smooth; sometimes vaguely "ribbed" longitudinally; solid or becoming hollowing.

Flesh: White; staining slowly brown when sliced.

Milk: White; copious; sometimes becoming brownish on exposure to air; staining tissues brown; staining white paper brown.

Odor and Taste: Odor rather fishy (like a dead shad, which anglers will tell you is probably the most malodorous freshwater fish); taste mild.

Chemical Reactions: KOH olive on cap surface; orange on milk.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 6.5-9.5 x 5.5-9 µ; subglobose or occasionally broadly ellipsoid; ornamentation 0.4-0.8 µ high, as widely spaced amyloid ridges forming completed reticula. Pleuromacrocystidia conspicuous and abundant; subcylindric to subfusiform; thick-walled; arising in the subhymenium or gill trama; to 150 x 15 µ. Cheilocystidia similar but shorter. Pileipellis a lamprotrichoderm with a turf of cylindric to narrowly fusiform pileocystidia measuring up to about 100 x 5 µ.

REFERENCES: (Fries, 1821) Fries, 1838. (Saccardo, 1887; Coker, 1918; Kauffman, 1918; Hesler & Smith, 1979; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Weber & Smith, 1985; Arora, 1986; Heilmann-Clausen et al., 1998; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Montoya et al., 1996a; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo, 2007; Binion et al., 2008.) Herb. Kuo 06239510, 08240203, 07180707, 06270805.

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


Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus

Lactarius volemus var flavus
Lactarius volemus var. flavus
(see comments)

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