Amanita virosa: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Amanita virosa Mushroom
Amanita virosa a beautiful but deadly mushroom. Commonly known in Europe as the destroying angel. Occurring in Europe, Amanita virosa associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees.
The large fruiting bodies appear in summer and autumn; the caps, stipes, and gills are all white in color.
Amanita virosa was first collected and described by Elias Magnus Fries a Swedish mycologist and botanist.
The names Amanita virosa and Amanita verna are often applied to various North American destroying angels in field guides, but those names represent European species that do not occur naturally in North America; the former species turns yellow with KOH while the latter does not.
Amanita virosa Identification
2.5-10 cm; almost oval, becoming convex, then broadly convex to somewhat bell-shaped or nearly flat in age; bald; dry or a little sticky; stark white to ivory, sometimes discoloring towards the center in age--or rarely a little yellowish or pinkish with maturity; the margin not lined.
Are quite close, pure white to cream, with a flocculose edge. The short gills are truncate.
Is 50 - 165 × 7 - 15 (-20) mm, cylindrical, white, solid to pithy-hollow, scaly below the ring (often illustrated with recurved pointed scales), arranged in concentric rings and somewhat overlapping each other; in some cases the scales are robust. The bulb is 16 - 48 mm wide. The ring is white to yellowish, skirt-like, membranous, fragile, collapsing rapidly on the stem, and in the upper quarter of the stem. The volva is membranous, white, sometimes taking on a pinkish tint at maturity, arising from the upper surface of the bulb, limbate, and usually collapsing against the stem base. The flesh is pure white and unchanging.
Not distinctive in young specimens, but often becoming foul and unpleasant (sickly sweet, or reminiscent of rotting meat) with old age.
Spherical or subglobose, 7-8μm in diameter.
Amanita virosa has white spore print.
Amanita virosa Etymology
The common name Destroying Angel is applied also in North America to two other fairly common members of the genus Amanita. They are Amanita bisporigera and Amanita ocreata, which are most commonly found in eastern North America and western North America respectively. (In France, Amanita verna is a fairly frequent find, and it too goes by the common names of Spring Amanita or, again, Destroying Angel.)
Amanita virosa Toxin Effects
The toxin in the death angel is a relatively small protein of eight amino acids, a cyclopeptide called alpha-amanitin. According to John W. Rippon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago in Medical Mycology, alpha-amanitin works by slowly attacking RNA polymerase, an enzyme in the liver.
It ultimately affects the central nervous system and kidneys. Unlike many fungal toxins, it does not cause symptoms right away.
6-24 hours after ingestion there may be an early feeling of unease, followed by violent cramps and diarrhea.
On the third day, there is a remission of symptoms, but this is a false remission.
On the 4th to 5th day the enzymes increase and liver and kidneys are severely affected. Death often follows if a liver transplant or other heroic measures are not performed.
The same toxin is, coincidentally, found in a completely unrelated mushroom Galerina autumnalis.
Amanita virosa Taste
According to some people who have eaten the death angels (and died), they have a rather good taste, so you can't trust your taste buds in picking poisonous from edible mushrooms.
There is no known antidote, though at the present time in case of greater ingestion.
Ultimate Mushroom does not recommend tasting it!
Interesting facts about The Amanita virosa Mushroom
While some animals can eat this toadstool without harm, to humans it is one of the most toxic of all known fungi.
Young specimens of Amanita virosa are sometimes mistaken for puffballs or other non poisonous mushrooms and are picked and eaten.
Amanita virosa Growing
Amanita virosa is found in mixed woodland, especially in association with beech, on mossy ground in summer and autumn. Most Amanita species form ectomycorrhizal relationships with the roots of certain trees.
In Britaino often found at the edge of deciduous or mixed woodland.
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