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Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deliciosus

Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deliciosus

Main features

  • Fruits Late Summer to Autumn

  • Grows in Pine woods

  • Usually fruits in large numbers

  • Smells fruity

  • Cap pinky-orange, with faint concentric rings and depressed in the centre

  • Cap 5 to 20cm wide and bruises green where damaged

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

  • Milk carrot orange, turning vinaceous

  • Stem is hollow, pale orange, tapered at base and covered in deep-orange pits

  • No ring/skirt

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

  • Milk taste is mild then bitter (only do this test with Lactarius)

  • Spore print is buff

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Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deliciosus

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Delicious Milkcap, Red Pine Milkcap, Red Pine Mushroom


Scientific name meaning: Lactarius is Latin and means to lactate. Deliciosus is also Latin and means delicate or deliciuos

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

Habitat - where will I find it? In Pine woods

Description - what does it look like? 

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

Cap: Pinky-orange in colour with faint concentric rings. The cap starts of convex and then forms a central depression - old specimens almost funnel-like. It feels granulated when dry and sticky when wet. It bruises green where damaged and is 5 to 20cm wide

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

Milk: Carrot orange at first, turning vinaceous 

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

Milk taste: Mild at first, then slighty bitter (Only do this test with Lactarius)

Stem: Around 1-2cm wide and 5-8cm tall. It is hollow, cylindrical and tapers towards the base. It is pale orange, bruised green where damaged, and has deep-orange pits. There is no ring/skirt

Smell: Fruity

Spore colour: Buff

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

The Saffron Milkcap could also be confused with any of the orange milk producing Lactarius, which are all edible. However, amongst other differences, The False Saffron Milkcap (Lacatrius detterimus) grows with Spruce and has no 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

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. 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!

Saffron Milkcap - Lactarius deliciosus - gills, stem pitting and milk
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