What You Should Know
Amanita caesarea is an edible mushroom that is commonly known as Caesar's mushroom. It has a bright orange or yellow cap that can reach up to 20 cm in diameter. The stem is white to mid-orange and can grow up to 25 cm in height. The mushroom has a distinctive skirt-like ring around the stem and yellow gills. It is native to Europe and found in oak and chestnut forests. It prefers well-drained soils and typically grows in late summer and early autumn. Two similar-looking mushrooms found in North America are sometimes called Caesar's mushroom, but they can be poisonous.
While Amanita caesarea is not a psychedelic mushroom, it is considered a choice edible by many and is known for its excellent taste and culinary uses. In fact, it has been prized as a food since ancient Roman times, and it continues to be a popular culinary ingredient in some parts of the world today. Only pick young mushrooms that are in good condition and don't have a bad smell. It should be thoroughly cooked before consumption to ensure that any potentially toxic compounds are destroyed. The mushroom can be sautéed, roasted, or grilled and is commonly used in soups, stews, and pasta dishes.
Amanita caesarea is protected by law in several countries, including Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Germany. It is also listed in the Red Data book of Ukraine, which means it is a rare and endangered species in that country.
Other names: Caesar's Mushroom, German (Kaiserling, Orangegelber Wulstling, Kaiserpilz).
Amanita caesarea Mushroom Identification
1.97 to 7.87 inches (5 to 20 cm) in diameter cap with bright orange-red to a duller orange color, often becoming more or less paler at maturity, hemispherical then plano-convex, smooth, shiny, somewhat viscid, with a rather short-striate margin (10 - 30% of the radius). The volva is present as large thick white patches.
The gills are yellow-orange, free and crowded.
1.97 to 9.84 inches (5 to 25 cm) height, 0.59 to 0.98 inches (1.5 to 2.5 cm) in diameter. The stem is pale to mid-orange and the base is covered with a white bag-like volva.
Odor and Taste
The odor is pleasantly mushroomy and nutty. The taste is nutty and mild.
The spores measure (8.0-) 8.9 - 12.9 (-17.8) × (5.3-) 6.0 - 8.5 (-14.3) µm and are inamyloid and ellipsoid to elongate, occasionally broadly ellipsoid. Clamps are present at bases of the basidia.
It is mycorrhizal, meaning it forms a symbiotic beneficial relationship with the roots of certain trees. It grows in southern Europe and North Africa, especially in the hills of northern Italy, alone or in small groups. It is also found in other parts of the world such as the Balkans, Hungary, India, Iran, China, and Mexico. In Europe, it grows in oak forests, either individually or in groups, from early summer to mid-autumn. In warmer areas, it can also be found in oak, pine, or fir forests at higher altitudes.
Amanita caesarea Look-Alikes
Has a yellow-orange cap and white gills, without stem rings.
Also orange, but with a snakeskin-like pattern on the stem.
Is distinguished by smaller, non-fleshy fruit bodies, the absence of a white free volva, and the white color of the gills and stem.
Amanita caesarea vs. Amanita jacksonii
Amanita jacksonii can be distinguished from Amanita caesarea by several characteristics. When young and fresh, the cap of Amanita jacksonii is a deeper orange color, sometimes bordering on red, while Amanita caesarea typically has a lighter orange or yellowish cap. Additionally, the spores of Amanita jacksonii are much smaller than those of Amanita caesarea. These differences can be helpful in accurately identifying these two mushroom species.
Amanita caesarea vs. Amanita muscaria
Cap is more of a red-orange
Cap is smooth with no warts, although lightly striated at the edges
Stem is more of a pale yellow to orange
Gills are a light yellow to orange, but always at least slightly colorful
Usually found around oak and pine
Cap is more of a deep red, this color may fade with age
Cap often has white “warts” on the top, a remnant of the universal veil, these may fall off with age
The stem is pure white
Gills are pure white
Usually found around spruce, birch, and sometimes pine
Amanita caesarea Toxicity & Side Effects
This mushroom is not toxic, though it can accumulate heavy metals if any are in the soil. In most cases, it is safe to eat. However, the species has toxic look-alikes, including some that can kill. Other look-alikes are hallucinogenic. Still, others have not been studied at all.
Finally, like any other food, this mushroom can cause allergic reaction or other problems for sensitive individuals, the standard advice (go to a doctor if symptoms persist) is no good in cases of mistaken identity.
Toxic amanitas often taste excellent and have few, if any, symptoms until after permanent or possibly fatal damage has occurred. Anyone who suspects they may have eaten the wrong amanita species should not wait for discomfort to set in but should seek treatment immediately.
Amanita caesarea Video
Amanita caesarea Taxonomy and Etymology
In 1772 Giovanni Antonio Scopoli first described this species and named it Agaricus caesareus. In 1801 Christiaan Hendrik Persoon transferred this fungus to the new genus Amanita and renamed it Amanita caesarea.
The common name comes from its being a favorite of the Roman emperors, who took the name Caesar (originally a family name) as a title. It was a personal favorite of Roman emperor Claudius.
Amanita caesarea Synonyms
Helvella ciceronis Battarra (1755), Fungorum agri ariminensis historia, p. 27, tab. 4, fig. C ('Elvela')
Agaricus caesareus Scopoli (1772), Flora carniolica, Edn 2, 2, p. 419 (Basionyme) Sanctionnement : Fries (1821)
Agaricus aurantiacus Bulliard (1782), Herbier de la France, 3, tab. 120
Agaricus aureus Batsch (1783), Elenchus fungorum, p. 57
Amanita aurantiaca Lamarck (1783), Encyclopédie méthodique, Botanique, 1, p. 111
Hypophyllum caesareum (Scopoli) Paulet (1808) , Traité des champignons, 2, p. 319, tab. 154, fig. 1-3
Agaricus xerampelinus Purton (1821), An appendix to Midland flora, 3(1), p. 210
Amanita pellucidula Banning & Peck (1891) , Annual report of the New York state Museum of natural history, 44, p. 66
Fungus caesareus (Scopoli) Kuntze (1898), Revisio generum plantarum, 3, p. 479
Venenarius caesareus (Scopoli) Murrill (1913), Mycologia, 5(2), p. 73
Volvoamanita caesarea (Scopoli) Beck (1921), Der Pilz-und Kräuterfreund, 4(10), p. 230
Amanita basii Guzmán & Ramírez-Guillén (2001), Bibliotheca mycologica, 187, p. 11
Photo 1 - Author: GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
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Photo 4 - Author: GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Photo 5 - Author: GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)