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Summary: Amanita muscaria is characterized by a brightly colored cap with whitish warts, white gills, membranous ring, and volva consisting of a series of scaly concentric rings above the basal bulb. The cap color is variable from red to orange, through shades of yellow or tan to white, and can change in age, with the weather, and with growing conditions. The commonest variety in the Pacific Northwest in natural habitats is var. flavivolvata with red cap and pale yellowish tan warts. Var. flavivolvata may be a separate species (along with var. guessowii and var. alba) from Amanita muscaria var. muscaria which does not appear to occur in the Pacific Northwest (though it is reported from Alaska). Amanita muscaria is used in shamanistic rites in some Siberian tribes. The insecticidal or insect-repelling character implied by the Latin and English names is not well established, and Michelot & Melendez-Howell speculate that it was named the mushroom of the flies because it is able to induce divine or evil states of possession similar to those that flies were historically supposed to produce. J. Lindgren (pers. comm.) says that this species does stupefy flies and it is an interesting experiment to watch the flies pass out and them come back to life in a short time. Amanita muscaria, in the wide sense that is currently used, is found widely and commonly in the Pacific Northwest including specifically BC (in Redhead(5)), WA (Jumpponen(1)), OR (Zeller(2)), and ID, (Oda(1)), and is also found elsewhere in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Australasia.
Cap: 5-30(40)cm across, spherical becoming convex then flat to slightly depressed; 1) bright red to blood-red, scarlet-red or orange-red often fading to orange, yellow-orange or paler (var. flavivolvata [southern and western North America]), 2) can be bright yellow-orange to yellow fading (var. formosa - most common variety in eastern North America), 3) yellow with peachy center (var. persicina - southeast), or 4) white to buff to silvery-grayish-white (var. alba - northern); covered at first with pyramidal warts [which are whitish to pale yellowish tan (var. flavivolvata), pallid or tan to yellow (var. formosa)], buff or tan (var. alba); warts flattened when old, often wearing away or washed off by rain, cap viscid when moist, margin usually at least somewhat striate, (Arora, except for notations in square brackets)
Flesh: thick, firm when young, soft when old; white, (Arora)
Gills: adnate or adnexed to free, broad, close; white, (Arora), free or slightly attached, crowded, broad; whitish, (Lincoff)
Stem: 5-20(30)cm x 1-3(4)cm at top, widening downward or equal with a basal bulb up to 6cm wide; white to whitish or somewhat discolored when old, smooth or with ragged scales below ring, (Arora), 5-18cm x 0.3-3cm, (Lincoff for var. muscaria), VOLVA consists of series of scaly concentric rings (usually 2-4) at top of basal bulb, (Arora) seen as concentric rings or patches of creamy to yellowish tan tissue around an enlarged base, (Lindgren)
Veil: membranous, usually forming a thin, persistent, median to superior, skirt-like ring that may collapse when old; ring white or with yellow patches, margin often torn or toothed, (Arora), ring membranous, median to superior, white with yellowish edge, often falling away, (Lindgren)
Odor: faint (Phillips)
Taste: pleasant (Phillips)
Microscopic spores: spores 9-13 x 6.5-9 microns, elliptic, smooth, inamyloid, (Arora), spores (7.5)9.1-12.8(19.0) x (5.5)6.6-8.6(11.5) microns, (Lindgren), spores 9.2-11.6 x 6.4-9.5 microns, nearly round to broadly elliptic, smooth; basidia 4-spored, 40-50 x 10-13 microns, clavate, occasionally with basal clamp; pleurocystidia not seen, marginal cells basidiole-like to cystidiole-like; cap cuticle consisting of periclinal hyphae 1-4.5 microns across, strongly gelatinized, occasional septa with clamps, (Breitenbach)
Spore deposit: white (Arora)
Habitat / Range
single or scattered to densely gregarious or in large fairy rings, "in forests and at their edges, also with planted trees", (Arora), on the ground, under Pinus (pine), Picea (spruce), and Betula (birch), also live oak and madrone in California, fruits in June to October, in California during winter, (Lincoff), summer, fall, winter
Orange variations must be differentiated from Amanita aprica; yellow variations from Amanita aprica and Amanita 'gemmata', and white forms from Amanita 'alba' (no ring), white Amanita phalloides, and white Amanita ocreata. (See those species.)
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2021-06-23 11:58:34 PM
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