Cap 5-11 cm broad, convex the margin at first incurved, becoming nearly plane at maturity, the disc slightly depressed; surface viscid when moist, varnished when dry, smooth, sometimes faintly zoned, pallid, then pale grey, finally pale greyish-brown; flesh white, moderately thick, bruising lilac-purple when injured; odor, of "mushroom;" taste, mildly peppery; cuticle ochraceous in 6% KOH.
Gills adnate to subdecurrent, moderately broad, close, pallid becoming cream-buff, the edges ochraceous at maturity; latex white, drying purple-brown, discoloring the gills lilac-purple.
Stipe 4-8 cm tall, 1.2-2.0 cm thick, more or less equal, solid, becoming partially hollow at maturity; surface viscid when moist, glazed when dry, pallid; flesh (cortex) discoloring lilac when cut, the core unchanging; veil absent.
Spores 9-10 x 7-8 µm, broadly elliptical, partially reticulate, the ornamentation amyloid; spore print white to creamy.
Scattered in hardwood/conifer woods; fruiting from early to mid-winter.
Lactarius pallescens var. pallescens is characterized by an extremely viscid, (when moist) pallid to pale grey or greyish-brown cap, and white latex which stains the gills lilac. Lactarius uvidus var. uvidus is similar but is somewhat darker, not as viscid and the cap cuticle stains green in KOH. Lactarius uvidus var. uvidus is uncommon in California.