Peppery Milkcap

(Lactifluus piperatus)

Conservation Status
Peppery Milkcap
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Peppery Milkcap is a common, widespread, easily identified, gilled mushroom. It occurs in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the United States and southern Canada, it occurs east of the Great Plains. It grows in the summer on the ground under hardwoods. It is found alone, widely scattered, or in groups but not clustered (gregarious). It has a mutually beneficial relationship (mycorrhizal) with the tiny rootlets of trees, absorbing sugars and amino acids while helping the tree absorb water.

When it first appears, the cap is broadly convex, white to creamy white, and unzoned. The surface is dry and hairless, and the margins are even. As it ages it becomes flat and depressed in the middle. Mature caps are 1½ to 6 (4 to 15 cm) in diameter and broadly vase shaped. Older caps sometimes develop buff-colored or tan stains.

The gills are narrow, frequently forked, and very crowded. They are broadly attached to the stalk or slightly run down the stalk. They are white at first, becoming pale cream-colored with age.

The stalk is solid, white, hairless, ¾ to 3 (2 to 8 cm) long, and to 1 (1 to 2.5 cm) thick. It may be tapered a little to the base or more or less equal in thickness from top to bottom. It does not have “potholes”.

The flesh is white, thick, crisp, and brittle. It is considered edible when properly prepared, but it has an extremely peppery taste, it contains toxins, and it may be difficult to digest.

Peppery Milkcap contains copious white latex. This is best seen by drawing a knife blade across the gills. The latex is white and usually does not change color when exposed to air, but it may slowly turn yellowish as it dries. It usually does not stain wounded tissue, but sometimes stains wounded tissue yellowish. It does not stain white paper.

The spore print is white.


Similar Species

Habitat and Hosts







Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.





  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Phylum Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subphylum Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Agaricomycetidae  
  Order Russulales  
  Family Russulaceae (milkcaps, brittlegills, and allies)  







A molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Russula subsection Ochricompactae (Buyck et al. 2008) showed that three subgenera within the genus Lactarius formed a single valid (monophyletic) clade, but it refrained from proposing a new genus for the clade. A later paper by some of the same authors (Buyck et al, 2010) proposed transferring 90 species from genus Lactarius to a new genus Lactifluus. Lactifluus piperatus is the type species for the new genus.




Agaricus acris

Agaricus lactifluus var. piperatus

Agaricus piperatus

Galorrheus piperatus

Lactaria piperata

Lactarius piperatus


Common Names


Peppery Milkcap

Peppery White Milk Cap










A symbiotic, usually beneficial relationship between a fungus and the tiny rootlets of a plant, usually a tree.





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    Peppery Milkcap   Peppery Milkcap  






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Other Videos
  How to ID Lactifluus piperatus, the peppery milk cap
Anna McHugh

Aug 28, 2021

Lactifluus piperatus, commonly called the peppery milky cap, is white-cream mushroom that is extraordinarily spicy. Like, melt your face spicy. If this mushroom and Zakk Wylde jammed together, your face would be 100% melted in seconds flat.

With tightly packed gills, white milky latex, and a pale overall fruiting body, the peppery milk cap is fairly easy to identify and is a common sight in oak forests. Many books call Lactifluus piperatus by a different name - Lactarius piperatus. Both genera are characterized by weeping or bleeding milky latex when the gills are damaged. In addition to the old name, it seems likely North America's peppery-hot, crowded-gilled white milky cap is not genetically the same as THE REAL Lactifluus piperatus, which may be limited to Europe. Go ahead, take a few seconds to bellyache and groan about the Europe thing. OK, are you back? Good! Learn more about this marvelously spicy species, its relationship to lobster mushrooms, and why you should never pick your nose while mushroom hunting.

  The peppery milk cap, Lactifluus piperatus. Southern Illinois.
Mike's thoughts on plants.

Aug 27, 2023

Not regarded as edible.




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Location: St. Cloud, MN (Benton County)

Peppery Milkcap  




Created: 9/2/2023

Last Updated:

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