Amanitas

Amanita spp. (about 600 species, worldwide)
Poisonous
Not recommended/not edible
Family

Amanitaceae

Description

Amanita species account for 90 percent of mushroom-related deaths, so you should be familiar with them. Each amanita starts as an egg-shaped button that can resemble a small puffball. This breaks open as the mushroom grows. Fully developed amanitas are gilled mushrooms with parasol-shaped caps that may be white, yellow, red, or brown. They also have: 1. A saclike cup surrounding the base of the stem. This often is buried just beneath the soil surface and may not be obvious. 2. A ring on the stem. 3. White gills. 4. A white spore print. Both the ring and the bulb may be destroyed by rain or other disturbance. For this reason, beginning mushroom hunters should avoid all parasol-shaped mushrooms with white gills.

This is a large group of mushrooms, which can be difficult to tell apart.  Some amanitas with memorable names include destroying angel, fly agaric, yellow patches, blusher, grisette, ringless panther, death cap and fool's mushroom.

Size

Size varies, depending on species and growing conditions.

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Photo of an unknown amanita mushroom with a yellow cap
Amanita (Unknown Species)

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Photo of onusta amanita mushroom closeup on cap showing gray-tan scalelike warts
Onusta Amanita (Cap)

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Photo of a grisette mushroom, mature, showing open cap and volva.
Grisette
In the grisette mushroom, note the grooves around the edge of the cap, and the prominent white cup at the stalk base.

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Photo of young grisette mushroom showing round gray cap and saclike cup at base
Grisette (Young Specimen)

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photo of fly agaric amanita mushrooms that are not found in Missouri
Fly Agaric Amanita Mushrooms (Not Found In Missouri)
Habitat and conservation

Amanitas are usually found on the ground in woodlands in summer and fall, but be on the lookout for them elsewhere, and whenever you hunt for mushrooms. Though they are toxic to humans, their presence in the wild should be tolerated as they are part of a healthy ecosystem.

image of Amanitas Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Status

This group of poisonous mushrooms accounts for 90 percent of mushroom-related deaths, so every mushroom hunter should be familiar with amanitas. They contain amanitin, one of the deadliest poisons found in nature. Ingesting one cap of a destroying angel can kill a man.

Life cycle

Mushrooms exist most of the time underground or within rotting logs as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree and other plant roots, rotting material, and the soil. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium sends up the mushroom aboveground; this is a reproductive structure. Spores are produced in the gills and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.

Human connections

While some species of amanitas are edible, eating only a tiny amount of a poisonous species can be deadly. Most experienced mushroom hunters avoid amanitas for this reason. Identification can be difficult. Don't eat any parasol-shaped mushrooms with white gills.

Ecosystem connections

Fungi are vitally important for a healthy ecosystem. Many form symbiotic relationships with roots of trees and other plants, helping them to survive. Fungi also feed off of decomposing materials, such as fallen leaves and logs, cleaning the forest and helping nutrients to cycle back into the soil.