Lactarius fulvissimus Romagn. - Tawny Milkcap

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Russulales - Family: Russulaceae

Lactarius fulvissimus, Tawny Milkcap, Wales UK

This medium-sized milkcap has been the subject of much controversy. Some authorities separate out Lactarius britannicus D. A. Reid (which in colour is usually somewhat darker) on the basis of structural differences in the cap cuticle and fewer zebra stripes in spore ornamentation. Others treat Lactarius britannicus as a synonym of Lactarius fulvissimus. As of February 2015 the Fungal Records Database for Britain and Ireland takes the latter position, and so on First Nature the two are treated as synonymous and covered by this page.

Lactarius fulvissimus, southern England

Distribution

Widespread and fairly common in broadleaf woodlands throughout Britain and Ireland, where it usually fruits in groups, this lovely milkcap mushroom is found throughout Europe, from Scandinavia right down to the Mediterranean.

Laactarius fulvissimus in a woodland habitat

Taxonomic history

This species was described in 1954 by French mycologist Henri Charles Louis Romagnesi (1912 - 1999), who named it Lactarius fulvissimus.

Synonyms of Lactarius fulvissimus include Lactarius subsericatus Kühner & Romagn. ex Bon. This milkcap has also been described under the following binomials: Lactarius cremor, Lactarius decipiens, and Lactarius ichoratus.

Lactarius britannicus D.A. Reid is treated by many authorities as synonymous with Lactarius fulvissimus - please see the opening paragraph.

Etymology

The generic name Lactarius means producing milk (lactating) - a reference to the milky latex that is exuded from the gills of milkcap fungi when they are cut or torn. The specific epithet fulvissimus means strongly reddish-brown (very fulvous!).

Identification guide

Cap of Lactarius fulvissimus

Cap

Initially convex, expanding and eventually developing a central depression; 3 to 7cm in diameter; surface dry or only slightly greasy, smooth to finely matt, becoming roughened towards the centre when fully mature; pinkish brick red at first, developing a yellowish tinge and becoming apricot.

Gills of Lactarius fulvissimus

Gills

Pale pinkish-buff; adnate (sometimes with a slight tooth near the attachment point) or slightly decurrent; moderately crowded, some being forked; when cut releasing a whitish watery latex that is unchanging.

Stem

Dry, smooth, pinkish buff to brownish orange, often paler towards apex; cylindrical or slightly fusiform; 3 to 6cm long, 0.9 to 1.6cm in diameter; sometimes developing a cavity when old. Stem flesh yellowish buff, firm and brittle.

Spores of Lactarius fulvissimus

Spores

Subglobose, 6-9 x 5.5-7.5µm; ornamented with pointed warts up to 1.2µm in height and some narrow ridges, a few of which are connected to form an incomplete network of ridges.

Spore print

Creamy-buff with a pinkish tinge.

Odour/taste

Unpleasant spicy odour; initially tasting mild then becoming slightly acrid.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorrhizal, in broadleaf woodland, often under oaks, limes, hornbeams or beeches on base-rich soil.

Season

August to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Lactarius quietus is of similar size and also occurs under oaks.

Lactarius fulvissimus with latex drops on gills

Culinary Notes

Despite its attractive appearance, the Tawny Milkcap is reported to be inedible.

Reference Sources

Funga Nordica, Henning Knudsen and Jan Vesterholt, 2008.

Fungi of Switzerland, volume 6: Russulaceae, Kränzlin, F.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding and Richard Shotbolt.

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