Amanita ceciliae (Berk. and Broome) Bas - Snakeskin Grisette

Distribution - Taxonomic History - Etymology - Identification - Culinary Notes - Reference Sources

Amanita ceciliae - Amanita cecilae - Snakeskin Grisette

Taxonomy

Phylum: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Amanitaceae

Less common but hardly less glamorous than Amanita crocea, the Orange Grisette, the Snakeskin Grisette is mycorrhizal with hardwoods and conifers.One of its older common names is Cecilia's Ringless Amanita, but I can find no information on the particular Cecilia (the saint, perhaps?) to whom this is a reference.

At maturity the caps usually flatten completely, retaining irregular grey veil fragments. (In West Wales on our forays we rarely see more than one or two of these mushrooms per year, but we will look out for some more mature specimens to photograph and add to this page.)

Distribution

Amanita ceciliae, Snakeskin Grisette, Wesdt Wales

Infrequent in Britain and Ireland but widespread across most of mainland Europe, Amanita ceciliae (or most probably a complex of species very similar to the one found in Europe) is also reported throughout much of North America.

Taxonomic history

First described scientifically in 1854 by British mycologists Miles Joseph Berkeley (1803 - 1889) and Christopher Edmund Broome (1812 - 1886), this mushroom was originally named Agaricus ceciliae. (Most of the gilled mushrooms were included initially in the genus Agaricus!) It was given its current name in 1984 by the Dutch mycologist Dr Cornelis Bas (born 1928).

Synonyms of Amanita ceciliae include Amanita inaurata Secr., Amanita strangulata sensu auct. mult., and Amanitopsis inaurata (Secr. ex Gillet) Fayod. (The ringless amanitas were formerly grouped into the now disused genus Amanitopsis.)

Etymology

The origin of the specific epithet ceciliae is unknown to us. Can you help?

Identification guide

Amanita ceciliae - Snakeskin Grisette

Cap

Olivaceous fawn, darkest at the centre, margin much paler, especially in immature specimens; margin with strong radial lines; irregular grey veil fragments mainly in cap centre; convex, eventually flattening; 6 to 12cm across.

Gills

Gills of Amanita ceciliae are creamy white, greying with age; they are free, with many short gills, and only moderately crowded.

Stem of Amanita ceciliae

Stem

Pale grey background, the surface developing snakeskin-like pattern of grey-brown scales - hence the common name Snakeskin Grisette. There is no ring on the 8 to 17cm long stem, which ranges from 1 to 2cm dia. The stem base is not swollen.

Volva of Amanita ceciliae

 

Volva

The bag-like white volva of Amanita ceciliae soon collapses leaving patches on stem base.

Spores of Amanita ceciliae

Spores

Spherical or very nearly so, smooth, 10.2 - 11.7µm in diameter, inamyloid.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not significant.

Habitat

Mycorrhizal, in mixed woodland.

Season

August to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Amanita vaginata has a smoothish stem without a snakeskin pattern.

Amanita fulva has a tawny-orange cap and white gills.

Amanita crocea is orange and has a snakeskin-like pattern on its stem.

Culinary Notes

Unlike some of the other ringless amanitas (commonly referred to grisettes), this mushroom is reported to be at least slightly poisonous; however, in Wild Edible Fungi: A Global Overview Of Their Use And Importance To People by E. R. Boa, Amanita ceciliae is listed as 'food'. Some authorities state that this species is 'not known to be edible', while many field guides warn against collecting Amanita ceciliae because of the possibility of confusion with deadly poisonous Amanita species, and so my advice is that it should not be gathered for eating.

Cap of a mature Amanita ceciliae - Amanita cecilae - Snakeskin Grisette

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly, 2011.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

Geoffrey Kibby, (2012) Genus Amanita in Great Britain, self-published monograph.

Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers (2008). Dictionary of the Fungi; CABI

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.