False Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deterrimus

False Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deterrimus

Main features

  • Fruits Late Summer to Autumn

  • Grows in Spruce woods

  • Usually fruits in large numbers

  • Smells fruity

  • Cap yellow-orange, with darker zones and often green bruising

  • Cap 6-12cm wide 

  • Gills orange, crowded, decurrent and bruised green where damaged

  • Milk carrot orange, turning slowly vinaceous then dark green

  • Stem is hollow, pale orange and cylindrical

  • No ring/skirt

  • Flesh in stem white, pale orange in cap and deeper orange near surface

  • Flesh bruises orange, then vinaceous, then dark green

  • Milk taste is bitter and acrid (only do this test with Lactarius)

  • Spore print is buff

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Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deterrimus

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Orange Milkcap, Spruce Pine Milkcap


Scientific name meaning: Lactarius is Latin and means to lactate. Deterrimus is also Latin and means worst, poorest or meanest

Season - when will I find it? Late Summer to Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? In Spruce woods

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The False Saffron Milkcap is a mycorrhizal mushroom growing in association with Spruce. It often fruits in large numbers

Cap: Yellow-orange in colour with dark zones and often green patches of bruising. The cap starts of convex and then forms a central depression - old specimens often have wavy edges. It  is 6 to 12cm wide

Gills: The orange gills are crowded, decurrent (run down the stem) and stain green when damaged

Milk: Carrot orange at first, turning vinaceous after 30 minutes, then dark green

Flesh: White in the centre of the stem, pale in the cap, deeper yellow-orange near the surface. Flesh bruising is orange, then vinaceous, then green

Milk taste: Acrid and bitter (Only do this test with Lactarius)

Stem: Around 1-1.5cm wide and 5-10cm tall. It is hollow, cylindrical and has a pale band near to where it meets the cap. There is no ring/skirt

Smell: Fruity

Spore colour: Buff

Possible lookalikes The poisonous Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus), does look similar to the False Saffron Milkcap, but has hairs on the edge of its cap, white acrid milk, and grows with Birch.

The False Saffron Milkcap could also be confused with any of the orange milk producing Lactarius, which are all edible. However, amongst other differences, The Saffron Milkcap (Lacatrius delicious) grows with Pine and has stem pits, Lactarius quieticolor and Lactarius semisanguifluus have no stem pits, and Lactarius salmonicolour, which does have stem pits, grows with Fir.

Edible uses An excellent edible mushroom, which should be cooked. Tends to keep good texture after cooking. Some say this is far inferior to teh Saffron Milkcap, but this is not our opinion

Use in medicine Lab tests have shown some antimicrobial and antioxidant activity 

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards This mushroom can grow on roadsides where it can accumulate traffic-related toxins. It is advisable to avoid harvesting from the sides of busy roads

Importance to other species Provides food for a the larvae of a number of fly species and slugs. Younger specimens tend to have less livestock!

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

False Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deterrimus - gills