Amanita echinocephala: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Amanita echinocephala Mushroom
Amanita echinocephala is a large, whitish, or ivory-colored mushroom with a characteristic spiny, or warty-looking cap. It lives on chalky soils with beech trees and appears earlier than most mushrooms of similar size in southern England. It frequently occurs singly or in small groups. It is very drought-tolerant.
Pronounced edible by some, but probably best avoided in case of confusion with other poisonous Amanita species. This mushroom is rare and protected. There are also reports about nephrotoxic effects similar to Amanita smithiana.
Amanita echinocephala Identification
Globose becoming convex and then flattened, usually with a down-turned rim; smooth and white or cream, covered with creamy wart-like veil remnants in the form of pointed scales, although in wet weather many of warts may wash off; margin ragged with veil fragments; diameter up to 15 cm. Beneath the pellicle, the flesh of the cap is white and firm.
Narrowly adnexed or free and crowded; creamy white, often with a slight greenish tinge.
Creamy white, 8 to 16cm tall and 1 to 2cm diameter, swollen towards a deeply rooting pointed base that bears volval remains. Ring creamy white, fleshy, and somewhat floppy and hanging (pendulous) at maturity.
Elloipsoidal, smooth, 9.5-11.5 x 6.5-8µm; amyloid.
Odor and Taste
A faint, unpleasant odor; suspect and so this mushroom should not be tasted.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Mycorrhizal with hardwoods and possibly occasionally with conifers, the Solitary Amanita is found in mixed woodland usually on dryish calcareous soil.
Amanita echinocephala Look-Alikes
Has a warted white cap with ragged veil fragments hanging from the cap margin; at maturity, its cap remains domed rather than flattening out.
Has conical warts on the cap, and have recurved scales right to the underside of the ring. It is usually found on heavier soils.
Has white velar remains on a white or pale lemon cap but not in pyramidal form; it has a fragile pendant ring.
Amanita echinocephala Taxonomy & Etymology
First described as Agaricus echinocephalus in 1835 by Italian mycologist Carlo Vittadini, this mushroom was moved into the genus Amanita by Lucien Quélet, who gave it the binomial name that it retains to this day.
Common synonyms of Amanita echinocephala include Amanita solitaria (Bull. ex Fr.) Secr. and Amanita strobiliformis var. aculeata Quél. This is a very rare species in Britain and Ireland, and its fruitbodies should not be picked.
The specific epithet echinocephala comes originally from the Greek words "e'chinos" (meaning hedgehog, and also sea-urchin - both of which are spiny!) extended with "cepha'le" (meaning head). These words later entered into Latin, giving the prefix echino- meaning spiny or spiky and cephalum meaning a head. Hence echinocephala means 'with a spiny head'.
Amanita echinocephala profile
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