E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Amanita phalloides
This species is extremely poisonous!

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #16696)

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Distribution of Amanita phalloides
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The death-cap mushroom is one of the deadliest species of poison mushroom. It was first reported in British Columbia in 1997, where it was found in Mission on October 13th, and has since been collected in September or October from several other BC locations. The UBC Herbarium has specimens from Mission, Chilliwack, Langley, Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. This is an introduced species that is thought to have arrived in BC on the roots of non-native trees, and in North America on the roots of imported oak trees (it is mycorrhizal on oaks as well as on other tree species) (MushroomExpert.com 2010). Cap colour ranges from greenish through to yellowish or brown, sometimes white.

Read a Vancouver Sun article about this species.

Species Information

Subgenus Phalloideae. Amanita phalloides is a deadly poisonous species which is common in California and has become common in recent years in the Pacific Northwest as well. Its features include 1) cap that is green to brownish olive, yellow-green, yellowish or sometimes white, often fading when old, the surface smooth, viscid when moist, often shiny when dry or with a metallic luster, sometimes with one or more thin, silky, white veil patches, the margin not typically striate, 2) close gills that are adnate to adnexed or free, and white to tinged faintly greenish, 3) stem that usually widens downward, white or tinged cap-color, smooth or with scales and fibrils, 4) fragile, superior, skirt-like, membranous ring that is usually persistent, 5) volva that is sac-like, membranous, white, thin and fragile, usually buried and sometimes disintegrating, and 6) odor mild to pungent or nauseating (like raw potatoes or chlorine), (Arora). The greenish coloration is helpful when present as is pungent odor when old. Amanita phalloides can be white overall. The fatal dose varies tremendously but averages 2 ounces. Amatoxins which are resistant to cooking or freezing damage the liver and kidneys. Silibinin, a drug that can be derived from the plant milk thistle, Silybum marianum, is being assessed in amatoxin poisoning cases (along with aggressive hydration) to reduce the effect on the liver.

Amanita phalloides is found at least in BC (vouchers at Pacific Forestry Center and University of British Columbia), OR, and CA, (Arora), and WA (Ammirati(11)). New York Botanical Garden has collections from QC, AL, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IN, MA, ME, MI, MD, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA, VT, Uruguay, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia. Tulloss(6) examined collections from BC, WA, CA, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NY, PA, Argentina, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and Madagascar.
4-16cm across, at first nearly oval then convex to flat; "color variable: green to brownish olive, yellow-green, yellowish, or sometimes white, often darker toward center and paler at margin, often fading when old (to grayish green, light brown, olive-buff, dull yellowish etc.)"; "sometimes with one or more patches of thin, silky, white universal veil tissue", "smooth, viscid or tacky when moist, often shiny when dry or with a metallic luster", margin typically non-striate, (Arora), rarely white, (Lindgren), fuscous, some shade of olive, olive-yellow, greenish, yellowish green or nearly white, at times with a brownish or grayish cast or with blackish streaks, usually darkest in center; "viscid, becoming dry and glistening when old, not hygrophanous, smooth, sometimes with radiating innately fibrillose streaks, glabrous, rarely with one or two large patches of universal veil tissue", (Ammirati(11))
white (Arora), white or yellowish green near cap surface (Ammirati(11))
"adnate to adnexed or free, close"; white, or tinged faintly greenish, (Arora), subgills numerous, attenuate, (Lindgren), free or when young attached by a slight decurrent tooth, close to subdistant (several tiers of subgills), broad, white or when old slightly yellowish, unchanging when bruised, (Ammirati(11))
5-18cm x 1-3cm, widening downward or equal with an enlarged base, stem solid or hollow; white sometimes tinged with cap color, "smooth or with minute scales and fibrils", (Arora), white with fibrous or scaly ornamentation that is white or colored like cap, (Lindgren), VOLVA universal veil membranous, white, forming sac-like volva that sheathes base of stem, the volva "thin and rather fragile, usually buried in ground and sometimes disintegrating", (Arora)
"membranous, white or tinged yellow green", forming a persistent but fragile, superior, skirt-like ring that may disappear when old, (Arora)
"at first mild, but later quite pungent or nauseating (like raw potatoes or chlorine)", (Arora), sickening sweet, or like raw potatoes, (Lindgren), sweetish, unpleasant when old, (Breitenbach)
not unpleasant, but do not try it: too poisonous
Microscopic spores:
spores 7-12 x 6-9 microns, elliptic to nearly round, smooth, amyloid, (Arora), spores 7.7-10.1 x 6.7-8.5 microns, nearly round to broadly elliptic; basidia 4-spored, 50-62 x 12-15 microns, without basal clamp; pleurocystidia not seen, marginal cells 29-45 x 13-25 microns, pyriform to vesicular; cap cuticle of periclinal hyphae 1.5-6 microns wide, "hyphae in the uppermost layer gelatinized, deeper hyphae brownish-pigmented", septa without clamp connections, (Breitenbach), spores 7-12.8 x 5.5-10.2 microns, but somewhat variable: Tanghe and Simons (1973) reported measurements (6.5)7.4-8.8(9.6) x (5.6)6.1-7.3(9.0) microns; basidia 2-spored or 4-spored, (Ammirati(11))
Spore deposit:
white (Arora)

Habitat / Range

single, scattered or in groups or troops in woods or on lawns near trees, (Arora), fruits in late summer and fall and into the winter, depending on location and weather, (Ammirati(11)), often growing with Corylus (filbert, hazelnut) or Castanea (sweet chestnut) trees in the Pacific Northwest, (Lindgren), [found in BC under Fagus (beech), Castanea (sweet chestnut), hazelnut (Corylus avellanea), and introduced oak, in California has spread to native oaks]

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Genetic information (NCBI Taxonomy Database)
Taxonomic Information from the World Flora Online
Index Fungorium
Taxonomic reference: Handbuck zur Erkennung der Nutzbarsten und am Haufigsten Vorkommenden Gewachse 3: 272. 1833

Additional Range and Status Information Links


poisoning due to amanitins, symptoms begin after 6-36 hours with vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps for a day or so, then apparent recovery for a day or so, then liver and sometimes kidney failure, brain toxicity, death common, (Benjamin)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Arora(1)*, Lindgren(1), Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Kibby(1)*, Ammirati(1)*, Lincoff(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, Bessette(2)*, Ammirati(11)*, NYBG(1), Breitenbach(4)*, Miller(14)*, Benjamin(1), Trudell(4)*, Sept(1)*, AroraPocket*, Buczacki(1)*, Tulloss(6)*, Desjardin(6)*, Siegel(2)*, Marrone(1)*, McAdoo(1)*

References for the fungi

General References