Lactarius piperatus

Lactarius piperatus
Image Courtesy of Emily Johnson
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Group of Fungi: Agarics

Family: Russulaceae

Latin Name: Lactarius piperatus (L.) Pers.

Common Name: Peppery Milk-cap

Description: Total height 1–3 1/4 in (2.5–8 cm); cap 2–6 in (5–15 cm) wide, convex at first but becoming flat with a depressed center in age, white, upper surface smooth to somewhat wrinkled; gills closely spaced, white at first but becoming pale cream in age, exuding a milky fluid (latex) when cut or bruised; stalk 3/4–2 3/4 in (2–7 cm) long, 3/8–1 in (1–2.5 cm) in diameter, usually tapering downward, white; spores white in mass.

Biological Role: Forms mycorrhizal associations with forest trees.

Habitat: On the ground in broadleaf forests; occurring as solitary fruiting bodies, in small groups or scattered.

Geographical Distribution: Widely distributed throughout eastern North America.

Comments: Lactarius piperatus is a member of a genus that contains a large number of species and is found throughout the world wherever trees that form mycorrhizal associations occur. The distinguishing feature of Lactarius piperatus and most other members of the genus is the production of a milky latex. Depending on the species involved, the latex and be clear, milky or some other color. The presence of latex can be easily determined in young fruiting bodies by cutting across the gills with anything ranging from a fingernail to a knife.

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