Lactarius rufus

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Lactarius rufus
Scientific classification
L. rufus
Binomial name
Lactarius rufus
Lactarius rufus
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is convex
hymenium is decurrent
stipe is bare
spore print is white
edibility: edible

Lactarius rufus is a common, medium-sized member of the mushroom genus Lactarius, whose many members are commonly known as milkcaps. Known by the common name of the rufous milkcap, or the red hot milk cap in North America. It is dark brick red in color, edible, and grows with pine or birch trees.


Described originally by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, and later by the Swedish father of modern mycology Elias Magnus Fries. The specific epithet rufus is a reference to its colour.


The cap is up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in diameter. It is dark brick, bay, or red-brown. At first it is convex, and often has a small central boss (umbo), but later flattens, eventually acquiring a shallow central depression. The surface is dry and matt. The concolorous, but paler stem often becomes hollow with age. The gills are slightly decurrent, cream, becoming coloured as the cap later, only paler. The spore print is creamy white, with a slight salmon tinge. The flesh is white, as is the milk, which tastes mild initially, gradually becoming very hot, and acrid after a minute or so.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Lactarius rufus appears from late spring to late autumn. It is frequent in the northern temperate zones in Europe and North America. It is most commonly found with pine trees, but can also appear with birch, or spruce. It is common in northern California, and the Pacific Northwest from late summer to early winter.[2]


Lactarius rufus is generally not recommended for consumption.[2][3] However, it is used in some places as a condiment after special treatment,[1] and mycologist David Arora notes that it is eaten in Scandinavian countries after canning, and also mentions that there may be edibility differences in North American and European versions of the mushroom.[2] It is one of the most common wild mushrooms harvested for food in Finland.[4]

In order to eat these mushrooms, you will have to cook them approximately 10 minutes in plenty of water. After this, you can either preserve them in vinegar or salt water or freeze them lightly salted. These mushrooms make a great salad, with mayonnaise, cream and onions.

Be careful when tasting for identification purposes, and only take a tiny piece. The delayed action effect masks an extremely hot (maybe the hottest) mushroom.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roger Phillips (2006). Mushrooms. Pan MacMillan. ISBN 0-330-44237-6.
  2. ^ a b c Arora D. (1986). Mushrooms Demystified: a Comprehensive Guide to the Fleshy Fungi. Berkeley, Calif: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-169-4. Google Books
  3. ^ Roody WC. (2003). Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky. p. 102. ISBN 0-8131-9039-8. Google Books
  4. ^ Ohenoja E, Koistinen R (1984). "Fruit body production of larger fungi in Finland. 2: Edible fungi in northern Finland 1976—1978". Annales Botanici Fennici. 21 (4): 357–66. JSTOR 23726151.

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