Destroying Angel?

I find two or three of these every year in my lawn about this time of year. They look very similar to amanita virosa, but a. virosa is said to be a European/British species. Looking into it I find a close cousin said to live in Western North America, called a. ocreata. As best I can tell, that’s what I have here. Apparently as deadly as a. virosa, I come across these while picking the common Meadow Mushrooms that fruit in my lawn every Spring and Fall. Trouble is, they’re both white, with rounded tops and in the same size range. The distinct giveaway is the white gills of the amanitas, verses the salmon to dark brown gills of the good food species. Also the Meadow Mushrooms stain light yellow, whereas this white-gilled specimen doesn’t appear to stain when bruised.

Thin white gills of different lengths, not attached to the stem. Base of the stem in this case has turned yellow-brown. Prominent white annulus, or ring, on the stem. This one was found growing in the grass near a water spigot where the soil has been damp for a long time, with several deciduous tree and shrub species present. Others like it have been found in different parts of the lawn, East to West of the house, mostly on the North side.

Did not noticeably stain from bruising, even after 20 minutes

Amanita ocreata? I don’t know

Gills apparently not attached to stem Gills apparently not attached to stem.

Cap flesh Did not appear to stain when bruised, even after 20 minutes Cap flesh does not appear to stain from bruising, even after 20 minutes, though the base of the stem has turned yellow-brown. The whole mushroom appears more pure white in real life than in the photos.


11 thoughts on “Destroying Angel?

  1. The irony is, possessing one of these mushrooms which can kill you dead as a stone is perfectly legal, while possessing one that just makes you see funny things for a few hours will land you in jail.

    • I’ve been picking and eating wild mushrooms for many decades. There is a simple “trick” to using any sort of wild foods; don’t eat anything you haven’t positively identified and verified as edible. Also just because birds or insects seem to be eating it doesn’t mean it won’t make you sick or even kill you. Once you understand what those things mean, it’s sort of like saying, “don’t jump off a cliff into a pile of rocks” or “avoid wrestling with wild grizzly bears” etc. (rather obvious). There are thousands of ways to die, but these are some of the easier ones to avoid, even when foraging for wild food.

  2. friends:

    old story. 20 or 25 years ago, big dinner in portland, oregon of wild mushroom experts. what to eat? wild mushrooms, of course. of the 25 or so people in attendance, (as my very flawed memory “remembers”), all experienced and widely regarded as “authorities” on what you can and what you cannot eat, about 10 or 11 of them died from eating the mushrooms.

    not very good odds, i am thinking. i’ll stick w/ the stuff at the grocery.

    john jay

  3. I learned about mushrooms in Holland, so I hesitate to apply that knowledge here. One thing I remember is that there are some mushrooms (like several of the Amanitas) that are easy to mistake for edible ones. But there are other edible mushrooms that have no dangerous close lookalikes. Boletes were one example I remember, and we had a very nice dinner from those in boy scouts. Morels may be another, I no longer remember.

    Somewhere saved away I have an issue of a Dutch magazine somewhat like Scientific American, with an extensive article about the chemistry of Amanitas. As I recall, they have some very odd proteins: amino acids not found in normal proteins, and some of them are cyclic rather than open ended chains. One of them supposedly is an antivenom for Amanita poison, but it doesn’t occur in sufficient concentration in the Amanita…

    • Boletes and morels are a safe bet, so long as you know a “false morel”, which can be poisonous, from a real one. Boletes are edible, but most of them aren’t very good. The white Meadow Mushrooms that grow in large numbers here are easily confused with this (likely) amanita, until you look at the gills at which point there is no mistaking one for the other. Nightshade verses choice berries would be another example. One is poisonous and the other may be highly sought after, even valuable.

      Some of the more prized mushrooms sold in restaurants are wild picked. Morels and truffles come to mind. Chanterelles are often wild picked and sold commercially also. If I’m not mistaken, all huckleberries are wild picked.

      You can find anecdotes of severe sickness and death from store bought foods too, so it depends on what you choose as a focus of attention, or fear. You want to trust yourself, or trust some unknown number of strangers, with various interests, intents, and levels of competence, in the processing and delivery chain for your store bought food?

  4. How many people have you known who’ve been seriously affected by poisonous mushrooms, verses how many you’ve know who’ve been injured or killed in automobile accidents? Yet we think nothing of hopping in the car and driving on a whim. I rest that case.

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