Indigo Milky

Lactarius indigo



Entire mushroom bluish, bleeding blue; then greenish, bruising greenish. Grows scattered or in groups on soil in oak and pine woods. July–October. Cap convex to sunken, with inrolled margin at first ; indigo blue when fresh, fading to pale grayish blue with deep greenish bruises; texture sticky, smooth, zoned. Latex deep indigo blue, becoming dark green with exposure to air. Gills broad; spacing close; dark blue, becoming paler, staining blue-green when bruised; gills attached. Stalk often tapered toward base, becoming hollow with age; indigo to silvery blue; often pockmarked with irregular circles; texture dry. Spore print cream. Spores magnified are broadly elliptical to round, ornamented.

No lookalikes in Missouri.


Cap width: 1–6 inches; stalk length: ½–3½ inches; stalk width: ½–1 inch.

Habitat and conservation

Grows scattered or in groups on soil in oak and pine woods. The color of this mushroom is very unusual, so when you see a blue mushroom that literally "bleeds blue," it is almost certainly an indigo milky.

image of Indigo Milky Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri



An excellent edible. Add this mushroom to scrambled eggs, and they'll turn green!

Life cycle

This species is mycorrhizal: It exists most of the time as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree roots, in a symbiotic relationship with the tree. (Many trees fare poorly without their fungal partners.) When ready to reproduce, the mycelium sends up the “mushroom” aboveground—this is the reproductive structure. Spores are produced in these structures and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.

Human connections

It is easy to get caught up in hunting mushrooms for eating. But this lovely mushroom reminds us that fungi also possess a beauty in color and form that we can enjoy.

Ecosystem connections

This is one of many fungus species that help nourish forest trees through symbiosis. The netlike fibers of the fungus cover the surface of a tree’s roots, increasing the surface area and the roots’ ability to absorb water and nutrients. In return, the tree shares nutrients with the fungus.