Amanita vaginata: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Amanita vaginata Mushroom
Unlike many other Amanita species, Amanita vaginata does not have a ring on its stem. This edible mushroom is easily identified due to the color of the grey cap, with clearly striated margin, stem without decorations, generally white veil.
There are many North American species going under the classic European name Amanita vaginata. Amanita expert Rod Tulloss treats literally dozens of unnamed, vaginata-like, numbered taxa ("species 46," and so on) in his keys to North American amanitas (2003, 2008) - all separated on putative morphological differences. In short, a comprehensive DNA and morphological study of well documented Amanita vaginata collections from across the continent will be required before there are "good names" for our North American species.
Amanita vaginata is often found in urban settings or in public parks where the earth has been disturbed at some point in the relatively recent past. I find it in grassy areas at the edges of woods - or in lawns that are not meticulously manicured - more frequently than I find it in the woods.
Other names: The Grisette.
Amanita vaginata Identification
Cap 5.5-10.0 cm broad, convex, expanding to plano-convex, in age sometimes centrally depressed with a low umbo; margin at first decurved, plane to elevated at maturity, tuberculate-striate, the striations up to 1.2 cm long; surface when young partially covered with a membranous, white universal veil patch or patches which may discolor pale ochraceous-brown; at maturity the veil patches typically disappearing, the cap then grey to grey-brown, sticky when moist, glabrous except for the margin; context white to pale grey, firm, up to 1 cm thick; odor and taste mild.
Gills narrowly attached to free, close, thin, up to 1 cm broad, white to pallid, the edges minutely fringed, greyish near the margin in some specimens, lamellulae up to 5-seried.
Stipe 6-13 cm long, 1.2-2.0 cm thick, more or less equal, not bulbous, stuffed to hollow; surface of apex pruinose, the ornamentation often arranged in faint grey longitudinal lines over a pallid background, elsewhere grey-brown, squamulose, more coarsely so near the base; universal veil white, membranous, saccate, sometimes discoloring like the cap patches, attached near the stipe base, flaring gradually, not abruptly, from the volva base; partial veil absent.
Spores 8.0-11.5 x 7.5-10 µm, subglobose to globose, smooth, thin-walled, hilar appendage distinct, contents granular with one to several guttules, inamyloid; spore print white.
Solitary to scattered in mixed hardwood/conifer woods; fruiting from late fall to mid-winter.
Amanita vaginata Taxonomy & Etymology
In 1782 French mycologist, Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard described species Agaricus vaginatus.
Then in 1783, the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries moved it into the genus Amanita and gave it the name Amanita vaginata which it retains to this day.
Other Amanita species without stem rings include Amanita fulva, the Tawny Grisette, which at one time was considered to be merely a color variant of Amanita vaginata, and Amanita crocea, the Orange Grisette.
Synonyms of Amanita vaginata that are no longer in current use include Agaricus vaginatus Bull., Agaricus plumbeus Schaeff., and Amanitopsis vaginata (Bull.) Roze.
The specific epithet vaginata comes from the Latin vaginatus, meaning 'protected by a sheath'; it is a reference to the sheathing form of the volva that surrounds the stem base.
The common name 'Grisette' comes from the French word gris which means grey and was also applied to a coarse grey woolen material. The name was by association given to young working-class French women who wore grey dresses made from this material.
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