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Lactarius paradoxus

[ Basidiomycota > Russulales > Russulaceae > Lactarius . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Henry Beardslee and Gertrude Burlingham named Lactarius paradoxus in 1940, mentioning in comments that the species looks like Lactarius indigo "when viewed from above . . . but upon looking at the under side one is surprised to find it closely resembles Lactaria subpurpurea" (now known as Lactarius subpurpureus). While this contradiction does not constitute a "paradox" in modern English, the Greek root simply means "odd," which is accurate; the species does look like an indigo-subpurpureus combination, depending on how you hold it.

Lactarius paradoxus is more easily identified when young, when it features a blue cap with a silvery sheen, and purplish pink gills. As it matures, however, the species develops drab buff and tan shades, and begins to stain and discolor dirty green, making it less clearly distinct from older specimens of Lactarius subpurpureus and Lactarius chelidonium. However, the former is exclusively associated with eastern hemlock, while the latter has yellowish to brownish latex.

Thanks to Pandra Williams and Roxanne Palmrose for collecting, documenting, and preserving Lactarius paradoxus for study; their collections are deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with pines, and sometimes also reported with live oaks; growing alone or gregariously; summer and fall; fairly widely distributed in eastern North America, but more common in the southeast. The illustrated and described collections are from Arkansas, Georgia, and Florida.

Cap: 6–13 cm; broadly convex with a slightly tucked-under margin when young; becoming centrally depressed, with an uplifted margin, or shallowly vase-shaped; slimy when fresh; bald; dark blue to bluish, with a silvery sheen when young, becoming dirty grayish to purplish tan; with faint to moderate concentric zones of color; with old age staining dirty green.

Gills: Broadly attached to the stem or just beginning to run down it; close; purplish pink when young, becoming dirty buff with maturity; staining and bruising dirty green.

Stem: 2–4 cm long; 1–1.5 cm thick; usually tapered to the base; bald; without potholes; dry; colored like the cap, but with purplish pink flushes; staining dirty green with age; hollowing.

Flesh: Whitish to bluish, greenish, or purplish (or brownish in the mature, hollowing stem); firm; staining purplish red in places when sliced.

Milk: Very scant; dark purplish red; staining surfaces purplish red.

Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste mild, not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface and flesh (per Montoya et al., 1998).

Spore Print: Pale yellowish.

Microscopic Features: Spores 7–10 x 5.5–6.5 µm; ellipsoid; ornamentation consisting of amyloid warts and ridges extending 0.5–0.75 µm high, forming partial reticula. Hymenial macrocystidia rare; to about 60 µm long; mucronate; scarcely projecting. Pileipellis a thick ixocutis.

REFERENCES: Beardslee & Birmingham, 1940. (Hesler & Smith, 1979; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1979; Weber & Smith, 1985; Lincoff, 1992; Metzler & Metzler, 1992; Montoya et al., 1998; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.) Herb. Kuo 10161301, 12101507. Herb ILLS ASM 13861.

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Lactarius paradoxus

Lactarius paradoxus

Lactarius paradoxus

Lactarius paradoxus

Lactarius paradoxus

Lactarius paradoxus

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Kuo, M. (2016, July). Lactarius paradoxus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: