As the common name states, this Milkcap is often found around Birch trees, but it can also grow with other deciduous tress, especially if the ground is mossy, rich and moist.
The Birch Milkcap Lacctarius tabidus is an extremely common member of the milkcap family. This group were randomly scattered about the place enjoying the damp conditions in a humble sized birch copse, just away from a grassy field footpath.
These are also one of the smaller Lactarius species, nicely formed with an all over yellowish brown (or dirty orange) colouring – they can be sometimes hard to spot! The cap grows up to 4-5cm across and forms a shallow central depression which often has a small bump in the middle. The similarly coloured stem (which becomes hollow after time) is fragile and easily breakable, and the crowded, slightly decurrent gills are again, similar in colour to the rest of the mushroom but paler.
As with all milkcaps, the gills will seep milk (latex) when handled or damaged. The Birch Milkcap doesn’t have large quantities of it, so there may not be much being produced. But when you do get your hands on some, dab a portion of the milk on a handkerchief (or similar white cloth) and it will slowly turn yellow. This will be extra proof that you are dealing with Lactarius tabidus. The taste of the milk is mild, slowly becoming slightly unpleasant and bitter. The flesh is just the same, so I wouldn’t recommend these for eating – there’s too much of an acrid taste.
Although, inedible it is indeed an interesting looking Milkcap and one to tick off your ‘found that’ list, so keep a look out when you’re around birch trees, especially if the ground is mossy and/or damp. Happy hunting.
QUICK ID TABLE: BIRCH MILKCAP Lactarius tabidus
CAP / FLESH
4 – 5 cm across. Yellow-brown or dirty orange. Thin flesh. Shallowly convex with central depression, often with a small bump.
4 – 8cm x 0.5- 1cm. Same colour as cap. Cylindrical, often narrowing at the top.
GILLS / MILK / SPORE PRINT
Slightly decurrent, crowded. Similar colouring to rest of mushroom but paler. Producing white milk.
HABITAT / SEASON
Very common, on moist, mossy and/or damp ground near deciduous trees – especially birch.
Inedible. Acrid taste.
The Genus LACTARIUS (Milkcaps): Characteristics to look out for:
• Gills and flesh exude milk when broken or damaged.