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Natural Perspective

The Fungus Kingdom: Amanitas

(Last modified: 4 May 2015)

[photo:  Amanita velosa] Springtime Amanita (Amanita velosa)

Amanitas can be delicious or deadly, but they are arguably the prettiest of all gilled mushrooms. The young specimens emerge from their "egg" with patches of membrane left covering the cap and forming a cup (volva) at the base. The mature specimens often have brilliant cap colors, delicate skirts and cups, and are substantial enough to be tempting (unlike the pretty but smaller waxy caps). It is always a delight to find Amanitas, in all of their guises, although many are best left alone.
[photo: Amanita phalloides]

The Springtime Amanita shown above as well as its cousins, the Coccora and Grisettes are wonderful table mushrooms. The amanita family is however, notorious for its deadly species, such as the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) pictured to the right.

[photo: Amanita muscaria]

Finally, rounding out the family portrait, is the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria, left), known both from its use in fairy-tale illustrations as well as for its hallucinogenic and toxic properties.

(This picture is a composite showing the same mushroom in an early and then more mature stage.)

Phylum: Basidiomycota (spores produced on basidia)
Class: Homobasidiomycetae (substantial mushrooms)
Subclass: Hymenomycetes (release spores gradually)
Order: Agaricales (umbrella-like mushrooms)
Family: Amanitaceae
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This site produced and maintained by Ari Kornfeld
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Collaboration and inspiration thanks to Susan Kornfeld
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Special thanks to Claire Doyle Ragin for scanning some early photos
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