Amanita fulva (Schaeff.) Fr. - Tawny Grisette

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

Amanita fulva - Tawny Grisette

Taxonomy

Phylum: Basidiomycota

Class: Agaricomycetes

Order: Agaricales

Family: Amanitaceae

Although Amanita fulva, commonly referred to as the Tawny Grisette, is not poisonous it must be well cooked before it may safely be eaten. (Cooking destroys its toxins.) Amanitas are so stately that it seems a shame to collect them. I look for fallen specimens whereever possible when I want to photograph volvas or other features that cannot be seen easily on standing fruitbodies. Pale-capped Amanita fungi can be confused with Deathcaps; occasionally a Tawny Grisette will have a very pale-brown, almost light-ochre cap.

Amanita fulva, Tawny Grisette, Lot Valley, France

Distribution

Amanita fulva is a fairly frequent find in most parts of Britain and Ireland, and it tends to be most common in areas where the soil is acidic.(For this reason the Tawny Grisette is often the most abundant Amanita species in the conifer forests of western Wales, northwest England and Scotland.) This species is also found throughout most of mainland Europe. Amanita fulva is also reported from many parts of North America, where although it is quite common it might possibly be a different species from the European mushroom known as the Tawny Grisette.

Taxonomic history

When Jacob Christian Schaeffer first described this species in 1774, he named it Agaricus fulvus. (Most of the gilled mushrooms were included initially in the genus Agaricus!). This was subsequently transferred to the genus Amanita by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries in 1815, when it was renamed Amanita fulva.

Synonyms of Amanita fulva include Agaricus fulvus Schaeff., Amanitopsis vaginata var. fulva (Schaeff.) Sacc., Amanitopsis fulva (Schaeff.) Fayod, and Amanita ochraceomaculata Neville & Poumarat.

Etymology

The specific epithnet fulva means reddish brown (tawny!).

Identification guide

Cap

Caps of Amanita fulva range from 5 to 8cm in diameter when fully mature; tawny orange with a paler area around the edge of the cap. The surface is nearly always devoid of veil fragments.

Initially egg-shaped, the cap expands to become flat but with a small raised central area (an umbo). The edge of the cap is striated (with comb-like radial ridges).

Gills of Amanita fulva, the Tawny Grisette

Gills

The gills of the Tawny Grisette are white, free and crowded; of variable length, some start at the margin and others start near the stipe; sometimes a few of the gills start well away from the margin and terminate well before reaching the stem.

Stem and volva of Amanita fulva - Tawny Grisette

Stem

Stems of the Tawny Grisette are 10 to 15cm long and 1 to 1.5cm in diameter, tapering (narrower at the top); white (as on the left) or flushed pale tawny (as in the mature pair of specimens shown above); often with the surface very finely fibrillose. There is no ring, but at the base of the stipe there is a large white sack-like volva (the upper half of which is visible in the picture on the left).

Spores of Amanita fulva

Spores

Roughly spherical, smooth, 9.5-12.5 x 9.7-12.5µm; nonamyloid.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat

Amanita fulva is mycorhizal with hardwood and softwood trees; it is commonly found beside woodland paths.

Season

July to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Amanita caesarea (Caesar's Mushroom) is rarely if ever found except in southern Europe; its cap is brilliant orange with a striated margin, and the stipe is orange-yellow.

Amanita crocea has a yellowish-orange cap with an apricot tinge at the centre. It has cream rather than white gills and a more brittle stipe that is often hollow in mature fruit bodies, and it has a sweet smell and a nutty taste.

Amanita vaginata is similar but has a greyish cap. (For many years Amanita fulva was considered to be merely a colour form of Amanita fulva.)

Amanita fulva, Tawny Grisette, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Culinary Notes

This is an edible mushroom but not highly prized; however, as the genus Amanita contains some of the most deadly poisonous of all fungi only the most expert or the most foolhardy of fungus foragers eat any of the ringless amanitas. Some authorities report that unless very thoroughly cooked Amanita fulva is toxic; that warning together with the risk of confusion with poisonous amanitas is enough to discourage most people from treating the Tawny Grisette as edible.

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.

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)

Michael Kuo (USA)

Marek Snowarski (Poland)

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