Still Out There, Amanita virosa

Dave R.'s picture

I have recently been discussing with the club leaders some things we might do to improve the foray next year.  One of the topics we have been discussing is trying to bring additional experts to the event.  But we don't want to leave the beginning mushroomers behind, so I have been thinking about including a session on "Getting Started in Mushrooming" or "Welcome to the World of Mushrooms" or "Mushrooms From the Ground Up" or something like that.  Anyhow, one emphasis of such a session might be identification of a few common mushrooms every hunter should know. 

Sporadically through the summer I have found a mushroom every mushroom hunter should know.  That mushroom is the deadly Amanita complex of A. virosa, A. verna, and A. bisporigera.  These similar looking, pure white mushrooms are known by the common name of "Destroying Angel."  I have found them on five occasions as I recall this summer, so they are common in this area.  There are two patches of them within a stone's throw of my home in Huntingdon County.  It has been dry here most of the summer, so most of the specimens I have found to date have been fairly small.  This morning after the recent heavy rains, however, I found a fairy ring of relatively large specimens growing under a large white oak tree in a neighbor's yard.  I collected one for the photo below.  These attractive white mushrooms looked good enough to eat, but every mushroom hunter should know that they are dangerously poisonous. 

I did a blog on this deadly mushroom last summer, showing it in several stages of development, see link below.  I thought it was worth posting another one so this mushroom is always in the back of every hunter's mind and can never be mistaken for an edible variety.  Notice the shape - relatively tall and slender.  Notice the color - white above and more importantly, below.  Notice the base - bulbous and with a residual cup.  Notice the ring - relatively large, like a skirt.  As with all mushrooms, some of these characteristics will vary and the skirt may not be present.  In this case the stem is noticeably scaled.  This may be an indication the species is virosa, or it may just be an environmental artifact.  Get to know this distinctive mushroom thoroughly and avoid consuming anything resembling it, and you need not fear accidentally consuming one of the most dangerous mushrooms in the Pennsylvania woods.