As we were hiking through a piney wood near the end of our Marble Rock hike, I noticed a couple of mushrooms tucked into the pine needles. What caught my eye was a glimpse of mauve blue. It seemed odd, on an otherwise unremarkable mushroom, and I stopped to take a closer look. I photographed the fungi for later identification purposes.
When out hiking, we try to follow the old adage “Tread lightly, take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill only time”. I gently lifted the mushroom cap, attempting to see what sort of a stem it had without disturbing it, but the cap popped off and fell upside-down on the forest floor. I was startled to see a blue liquid leaking from the gills and broken stem. Not pale blue, not watery blue, but bright, vivid blue!
It’s distinctive colouring made this mushroom easy to identify when I got home: Indigo Milk Cap, or Lactarius indigo. Lactarius species are called ‘milk mushrooms’ because when they are cut they bleed a latex-like fluid. The colour of the latex, and whether it changes colour as it oxidizes, helps to identify different species. There are a number of lactarius species that are common and widespread. Lactarius indigo is listed as widespread, but not common, in Ontario. It fruits on the ground in woods. Truly, it is the blue-blood of mushrooms!