Mushrooms

Lactarius controversus

Today we are going to talk about a type of inedible mushroom that is often confused with other species within its genus. It is the Lactarius controversus. This mushroom has a certain degree of toxicity that made it suitable for consumption. It is easily confused with some species that are edible within their genus.

For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you everything you need to know about Lactarius controversus.

Main features

Hat and foils

It is a type of mushroom that can be recognized with the naked eye due to its large dimensions. And it is capable of reaching 30 centimeters in height, although they usually measure about 20 centimeters. As other species of the genus Lactarius do, the cap of this fungus evolves from a convex to flat shape and finally funneling as it develops. When they are young they have a convex hat and a funnel hat is one that has already reached adulthood and has a central depression.

It is a fairly fleshy hat and its cuticle is wet and slimy. It cannot be separated and is white. The color can sometimes be presented with some zone two of pinkish circles or spots. Even in a general way, it can present some external elements that are attached to the hat and whose margin is involuntary. Said margin is quite developed as a youngster and it lasts a long time as it reaches its adult stage.

Its blades are initially adnate and evolve slightly to decline in the adult stage. The color of these plates is creamy white although they are somewhat pink during the youth stage and clearly cream or pink when they are adults. These sheets are tightly packed and frequently anastomosed.

Pie and meat

As for the foot, it is cylindrical with a dimension somewhat shorter than the hat. It usually measures approximately 2 and 5 centimeters in length with 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter, being narrower as it advances at its base. This foot has the whole brittle carpophorus set. The color of the foot is whitish, creamy and has pink spots or areas. One of the characteristics that serves to differentiate Lactarius controversus from other species of the same genus is that it secretes a white latex when cut.

Its meat is hard and thick in texture. It is quite consistent but at the same time brittle and is white in color. Inside the meat also secretes an unchanging white latex. You can also recognize the mushroom by its fruity smell when it is young and, as it develops, it acquires an unpleasant odor and a pungent, astringent taste.

Ecology and range of Lactarius controversus

These mushrooms grow primarily during the fall season. We can find them on riverbanks, located under poplars and in some humid areas within oak forests. They are usually quite common in some areas more than others. The preference for poplars is where we can find more specimens in great abundance. However, it can also grow under the planifolios with whom it has a symbiotic relationship of mycorrhiza.

Although its greatest abundance is found in the fall season, we can also find some specimens during the summer and it is common to find in almost all regions of the Iberian Peninsula. We must bear in mind that the development of this plant depends on the temperatures and rainfall that have occurred during the spring and summer months. If summer provides the necessary conditions for the Lactarius controversus to develop well, we will find a greater number of specimens in the fields that we have mentioned above.

As for its edibility, as it happens with other white Lactarius, its acrid and astringent taste is what makes it not suitable for consumption. In addition, it has some toxic substances although not too many but just enough to cause digestive disorders. It seems that it is cooked repeatedly and we change the water as we do it, it significantly improves the flavor. However, its consumption is not recommended at all.

There is some literature that indicates that it can be used as a spicy condiment once it has dried and has been ground.

Possible confusion of Lactarius controversus

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, this type of mushroom can easily be mistaken for others of the same genus. And, if we are collecting edible mushrooms of the Lactarius genus, it is not good for us to be confused with this mushroom. We will end up collecting a type of inedible mushroom that can cause us digestive disorders. We are going to enumerate the main confusions that can be had with the Lactarius controversus and how we should differentiate each one of them.

  • Lactarius vellereus: This species has a velvety cuticle texture and the blades are much further apart than in Lactarius controversus. This can help us enough to be able to differentiate both species.
  • Lactarius pregamenus: this mushroom also bears a fairly similar resemblance and is white in color. The main difference is that it is smaller in size and the blades are even narrower and tighter between them.
  • Russula delica: confuse this species as they look or very similar. However, the main difference that we can see between these species is that no type of latex is reached.

In order to make a good differentiation of the white Lactarius, a detailed study of the various specimens that can be found must be carried out. Many errors throughout history have meant that for quite some time many of the species have been classified into different groups, being varieties of one or the other indiscriminately. And it is that in many cases we can confuse a variety within a species with another different species but belonging to the same genus.

As you can see, knowing how to differentiate different types of mushrooms is quite interesting from the point of view of their collection. I hope that with this information you can learn more about the  Lactarius controversus.

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