Indigo Milk Cap Facts
- Most frequently known by the common name of the Indigo Milk Cap, this brilliantly colored mushroom easily dazzles the eye. It also has several other general names, though. These alternate terms include the blue milk mushroom and indigo lactarius.
- Scientific professionals, however, typically refer to the fungus by its official scientific name. That’s the relatively simple term, as such things go, of the Lactarius indigo. Regardless of which term one chooses to employ, though, it’s a marvel of evolution.
- The remarkable species received its present name at the hands of the respected German-American mycologist, Lewis David de Schweinitz. This noted researcher assigned it the term it’s now known by as a result of reclassification. This he did in 1838.
- The first known recognition of it as a separate and distinct species, however, took place in the year 1822. The same renowned researcher that later changed the name due to reclassification also made the first formal acknowledgement of the incredible fungus.
- The intriguing Indigo Milk Cap appears to be maintaining a population base that’s both sizeable and stable. This further seems to hold true throughout the entirety of its natural range. The IUCN, therefore, has no listing for it on the organization’s Red List.
- Nevertheless, that status could change in the near future. That’s because, like most species, it now faces several threats to its continued existence. Habitat loss naturally poses a danger. It’s greatest threat, though, likely consists of the peril of climate change.
Indigo Milk Cap Physical Description
The visually distinctive Indigo Milk Cap quickly draws the attention of all those who encounter it. It does so for several reasons, though, not just because of its remarkable coloring. This marvelous fungus is truly an impressive creation of Nature and evolution.
For starters, the brightly shaded mushroom varies in size, frequently significantly, like most of its kind. That’s due to a wide a variety of reasons, including local environmental factors. Most specimens, however, attain a cap diameter of between 2 – 6 in (5 – 15 cm).
The stem of this marvel of the world of mycology, meanwhile, ranges from 0.8 – 3 in (2 – 8 cm) in height. The thickness of this portion of the species further varies. This measurement itself ranges from 0.4 – 1. in (1 – 2.5 cm). This usually provides it with a stable base.
The edges of the cap also roll under as the fungus matures. It shares this trait with other members of its genus. The mushroom also shares the characteristic that serves as part of its name. That’s because, if the flesh is damaged, a milk-like substances slowly oozes out.
Yet it’s the coloring of the Indigo Milk Cap tht garners the most attention. That’s due to the fact that this presents as a brilliant shade of indigo blue. Even the aforementioned milky substance within it shows the same shade! This slowly changes to green in air, however.
- Kingdom: Fungi
- Phylum: Basidiomycota
- Class: Agaricomycetes
- Order: Russulales
- Family: Russulaceae
- Genus: Lactarius
- Species: L. indigo
Indigo Milk Cap Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Fortunately, both for the Indigo Milk Cap itself, as well as those of us who appreciate Nature, the mushroom has an extremely large range of habitation. That’s because it inhabits certain portions of the continents of North America, Central America, Asia, and Europe.
In Europe, it’s only know to appear in southern France. In Asia, though, it lives in both China and India. Meanwhile, in Central America, the fungus is known to inhabit Costa Rica, Guatemal, and Colombia. Elsewhere, it thrives in the southern and eastern United States.
There, the majority of specimens of this impressive fungus develop from along the Gulf Coast of the United States, to the Appalachian Mountains. There, however, its population concentrations become somewhat scarce. Small groupings do appear elsewhere, though.
All regions in which it makes its home, though, share various natural attributes, of course. Chief among these is the presence of sufficient moisture. Warm temperatures represent another factor. Common locations include damp forests, frequently of pine or oak.
Much like many of its relatives, the intriguing Indigo Milk Cap evolved a mutualistic relationship with certain species of plants. These include pine and oak, thus explaining its preference for forests containing a high ratio of such species. It mainly thrives on the roots.
There, the mushroom extracts fixed carbon from its host tree. In exchange, however, the tree itself benefits. That’s due to the quantities of various amino acids and minerals the fungus removes from the surrounding soil. These it feeds to the host, ensuring mutual survival.