It has been a bumper season in my area for mushrooms and various forms of fungi. While on a stroll through some local property I was keeping my eyes on the lookout for any new growth that might be emerging through the mulch landscaping and I was delighted to find these lactarius indigo mushrooms. They are also known as a “milk mushroom” due to the fact that it produces a milky latex when cut or bruised. Other names include “indigo milk cap”, the “indigo Lactarius”, the “blue milk mushroom”, and the “blue Lactarius”.
The lactarius indigo is quite easy to identify as it is virtually unrivaled for it’s bluish color. When cut open it reveals an intense blue hue as seen in the photo but slowly turns green upon exposure to air. The few closest looking mushrooms are actually a purplish color with a more conventional stem and cap. The lactarius indigo has a slight funnel cap as it matures and eventually turns grayish with slight concentric rings as seen in the bottom photo.
This is an edible mushroom and can vary it taste with opinions ranging from superior to mediocre however it is sold in rural markets in China, Guatemala, and Mexico. The firm flesh is best prepared by cutting the mushroom in thin slices and you will notice that the blue color disappears while cooking and the mushroom becomes grayish in color.
There are other lactarius species that are found in the deep south of the U.S. with orange, blue or green latex and most of that group are edible. However, you should be absolutely sure of your identification of species before eating ANY mushroom. I am grateful to have friends that have experience and expertise in mushroom identification. I recommend that you find someone in your area with the same credentials or locate a local mushrooming club to learn more and have a source for positive identification.