Amanita crocea (Quél.) Singer - Orange Grisette

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Amanitaceae

Amanita crocea - Orange Grisette, young specimens

This lovely mushroom is distinguished by a thick, white volva, faint zig-zag white-and-orange stem markings, and if not always then at least generally an absence of veil remnants adhering to the cap. (In fact I have never seen a mature Amanita crocea with even the slightest fragment of the universal veil adhering to its cap, although occasionally other people have reported finding one or two large fragments adhering to the central region of a fully expanded cap during a prolonged spell of dry weather.)

Amanita crocea - Orange Grisette

For a detailed description of the Amanita genus and identification of common species see our Simple Amanita Key...

Distribution

Amanita crocea - a mature specimen, Scotland

Infrequent in most parts of Britain and Ireland, Amanita crocea can, however, be locally fairly common. In my experience the Orange Grisette rarely occurs in groups of more than four or five fruitbodies at a time in Britain, but in southern Europe there are reports of large groups of the Orange Grisette appearing in mossy woodland glades.

This species is also found throughout most of mainland Europe and in many parts of North America, where it is an uncommon find and is sometimes referred to as the Saffron Ringless Amanita.

Taxonomic history

Described in 1898 by Lucien Quélet, who named it Amanita vaginata var. crocea, this lovely mushroom was given its currently-accepted scientific name in 1951 by the famous German-born mycologist Rolf Singer.

Synonyms of Amanita crocea include Amanita vaginata var. crocea Quél., and Amanitopsis crocea (Quél.) E.-J. Gilbert.

Etymology

The specific epithet refers to the saffron colouring of this mushroom. Saffron is an orange-yellow spice derived from the flowers of the Saffron Crocus, Crocus sativa. The generic name Crocus comes directly from the Latin word crocus - hence crocea.

Identification guide

Amanita crocea before the cap is fully expanded

A note about colour

This lovely woodland mushroom varies considerably in colour. On the left is another beautiful sample with much deeper colouration than normal, and occasionally you will come across very pale specimens too.

Young cap of Amanita crocea at the 'egg' stage

Cap

5 - 10cm diameter; various shades of yellow-orange with an apricot tinge at the centre, the caps are Initially egg-shaped and smooth.

Mature cap of Amanita crocea

As the stem lengthens, pushing the cap out of the volva (the burst universal veil), the cap expands to become convex or even flat but usually with a small raised central area (an umbo) that is darker than the rest of the cap surface.

In very old specimens the cap sometimes turns up at the edge, which becomes markedly striate (with comb-like radial ridges corresponding to positions of the gills below the cap).

Gills of Amanita crocea, the Orange Grisette

Gills

The gills of Amanita crocea are cream, crowded, free or sometimes adnexed. There are often a few short gills, of variable length and irregularly distributed.

Stem of Amanita crocea, showing the zig-zag patterning

Stem

Stems of the Orange Grisette are 10 to 15cm long and 1 to 1.5cm in diameter, tapering (narrower at the top); pale to deep orange (closely matching the cap colour) with a white zig-zag pattern of soft scales.

As with the other kinds of grisettes, there is no ring on the stem, but at the base of the stipe there is a large white sack-like volva which is sometimes buried below ground level or in leaf litter

Spores of Amanita crocea, the Orange Grisette

Spores

Subglobose, smooth, 9.5-12.5 x 8.5-11µm; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Sweet-smelling and with a mildly nutty sweet taste.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorhizal with hardwood trees, particularly birch and beech, often in mossy woodland clearings; sometimes also found with larches, pines and spruces.

Season

July to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Caesar's Mushroom, Amanita caesarea, is rarely if ever found in northern Europe and not yet recorded from Britain or Ireland; its cap is brilliant orange with a striated margin, and the stipe is yellow and has a large pendent ring.

Amanita fulva has a tawny-orange cap and white gills; its stem is smooth and featureless and it has no distinctive smell or taste

Amanita crocea,- Orange Grisette, at 'egg' and mature stages

Culinary Notes

In Wild Edible Fungi: A Global Overview Of Their Use And Importance To People by E. R. Boa, Amanita crocea is listed as an edible mushroom. Some authorities state that this species is 'not known to be edible', while many field guides warn against collecting Amanita crocea because of the possibility of confusion with deadly poisonous Amanita species, and so my advice is that it should not be gathered for eating.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly, 2016.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

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

Funga Nordica: 2nd edition 2012. Edited by Knudsen, H. & Vesterholt, J. ISBN 9788798396130

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.

Other web pages about this species

Roger Phillips (UK)

Leif Goodwin (UK)

Michael Kuo (USA)

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