Galerina Marginata: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Galerina Marginata Mushroom
Galerina Marginata is a poisonous mushroom that contains alpha-amanitins in sufficient quantities to cause death.
Also known as Deadly Galerina mushroom has been mistaken in the past with representatives of the genus Psilocybe by those interested in collecting hallucinogenic mushrooms. This has resulted in several poisonings and at least one death.
Potential look-alikes include, depending on your familiarity with mushrooms, species of Armillaria (with a white spore print), Pholiota (spore print dark brown rather than rusty brown, cap often scaly), and the wood-inhabiting species Hypholoma (generally larger, spore print dark brown to purplish brown).
Galerina Marginata Identification
1.5 to 5 (8) cm in diameter, hemispherical when young, may have an umbo in the middle. With age, caps expand, becoming convex to almost flat. Ochre to orange-brown or yellowish-brown, with a lighter rim. The surface is smooth and dry or when moist, slightly viscid or greasy to touch. The flesh is thin.
Crowded, attached, sometimes slightly decurrent, pale brown to yellowish or yellow-brown.
2-8 cm long x 0.3-1 cm wide, beige at top, darker to almost black towards the base.
Ring or veil
Small membranous or fibrillose ring located nearer the top than the base of the stem. Check young mushrooms! In older specimens, the ring is often missing, or if visible, it may consist of only a few fibrils on the stem that are hard to see.
8-11 (13) x 5-6.5 (7) µm, almond-shaped, roughened.
Galerina marginata can be found just about any time during the year, though it is more frequent, in temperate areas, anyway, in the spring and fall.
On rotting wood of conifers or broadleaved trees, on wood chips in urban areas. Sometimes, wood is buried and the fungi appear to be growing from the ground or amid moss.
Galerina Marginata Life Cycle
Mushrooms exist most of the time underground or within rotting logs as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree roots, rotting material, and/or the soil. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the mushroom—this is the reproductive structure. Spores are produced in these structures and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.
Galerina Marginata Toxin
The toxin in Galerina (and in the death angels) is a relatively small protein of eight amino acids, a cyclopeptide called a-amanitin. According to John W. Rippon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago in Medical Mycology, a-amanitin works by slowly attacking the enzyme RNA polymerase. Although RNA polymerase occurs in all body cells, the cells of the liver are particularly affected because the body tries to sequester (and accumulate) toxins in the liver, and those cells are damaged the most. The a-amanitin ultimately affects the central nervous system and kidneys. Unlike many fungal toxins it does not cause symptoms right away.
As long as 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.
There is no cure for the ingestion of the poison once it gets this far, but doctors are getting much better at treating the symptoms.
Galerina Marginata Taxonomy & Etymology
This species was described in 1789 by German mycologist August Johann Georg Karl Batsch (1761 - 18020, who gave it the name Agaricus marginatus (at a time when virtually all gilled fungi were placed into the genus Agaricus, from which most have since been redistributed to other newer genera). The currently accepted scientific name Galerina marginata was established when another German mycologist, Robert Kuhner (1903 – 1996) transferred this species to the genus Galerina.
Synonyms of Galerina marginata include Agaricus marginatus Batsch, Agaricus unicolor Vahl, Naucoria autumnalis (Peck) Sacc., Agaricus autumnalis Peck, Pholiota marginata (Batsch) Quél., Pholiota discolor Peck, Galerina unicolor (Vahl) Singer, Galerina venenata (Vahl) Singer, Galerina autumnalis (Peck) A.H.Sm. & Singer, and Galerina oregonensis A.H.Sm.
Galerina means 'like a helmet', while the specific epithet marginata means bordered and is a reference to the generally paler (compared with the centre) marginal area of caps of this toxic toadstool.
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