Back to Main Menu

Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Amanitaceae

by Danny Miller

Click here for my Pictorial Key to the Amanitaceae

 

INTRODUCTION

The Amanitaceae family is defined by white spores, free gills (although they don't always look as free as other free gilled families) and the presence of a universal veil. That universal veil is often composed of material that makes Amanitas look like they "hatch" out of eggs, leaving warts all over the cap and other areas of the mushroom after the mushroom grows. Warts are defined as removable pieces of material that are not part of the mushroom itself. The similarly defined Lepiota "family" is often scaly, but those scales are part of the mushroom body and can't be removed.

Most mushrooms you will find in this family are Amanita. The rare Limacella genus is related, but the universal veil is a layer of slime, so they are entirely slippery (cap and stem) white spored mushrooms with free gills. But as the free gills can be subtle, Limacella are hard to recognize without practice.

Amanita section Vaginatae - click to expand

The so-called "grisettes". These species have no partial veil (although the powdery grey A. 'farinosa' looks like it doesn't have a partial veil but belongs elsewhere). A. velosa is in this section but sometimes appears to have a partial veil. The volva is a sac. Brown or grey striate caps.

Amanita section Phalloideae - click to expand

This group contains mostly deadly poisonous species. Nothing you can do to these mushrooms will remove the poison (a cyclopeptide called amatoxin) and prevent them from killing you if you eat them. They are recognized by the sac volva (as if the mushroom is sitting in a sac), usually bulbous stem, usually a non-striate cap and partial veil. (But both the volva and the partial veil can fall off).

Amanita section Caesareae - click to expand

The so-called "coccoras". These Amanitas are considered edible, but can very much resemble deadly poisonous species. Recognized by a sac volva and a partial veil (just like the deadly poisonous A. phalloides) but typically with a more striate cap, non-bulbous stem and thicker sac material that tends to leave one giant eggy patch on the cap. They can get quite large. These are fairly rare in the PNW, unlike the deadly poisonous A. phalloides which is becoming more and more common in urban areas.

Amanita section Validae - click to expand

Continuing the reputation of bizarre properties in Amanita, this section contains species with hemolytic properties when raw - in other words, they make red blood cells explode, at least in a Petri dish. Recognized by a abrupt bulb at the stem base and usually a coloured partial veil. Parts of these species usually turn red when handled (blush).

Amanita sections Lepidella and Saproamanita - click to expand

Sometimes not easily recognized as Amanitas, they may represent old lineages before strong, obvious volvas evolved. The universal veil has not developed to leave the same type of material on the cap or bottom of stem. It may simply be a mass of cottony tissues that makes the mushrooms look fluffy, until it washes off. They are mostly white mushrooms, and at least Lepidella can contain deadly poisonous species (Don't confuse with Matsutake! That could be a deadly mistake). The toxins are not the same as in the Death Cap, these toxins may "only" destroy your kidneys, not both your liver and your kidneys.

Amanita section Amanita - click to expand

None of the above characteristics. Universal veil may leave warts on the cap. Volva is often concentric circles or a collar. Rarely, a furry grey mushroom with no visible veils. Most mushrooms in this group are poisonous as well as hallucinogenic, in a way entirely different from "magic mushrooms" (Psilocybe). The most common symptoms after ingestion are vomiting and other gastrointestinal distress, delusions of grandeur, temporary coma-like state and amnesia. The toxins are water soluble.

Limacella - click to expand

Hard to recognize, as the universal veil is a layer of slime, but they can be recognized with practice by the free gills (although not always as obviously free as in other families) and slimy nature, especially on the caps. The species fall into three groups, which some consider separate genera, but I will treat them as subgenera. All are rare.

 

Summary of Future Studies Needed

 

Back to Main Menu