Amanita gemmata (Fr.) Bertill. - Jewelled Amanita

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

Amanita gemmata - Jewelled Amanita

Amanita gemmata is indeed a gem of a mushroom, although it is known to be poisonous - causing symptoms similar to those associated with the Fly Agaric, Amanita muscaria. Commonly referred to as the Jewelled Amanita, this rare find in Britain and Ireland is common in central and southern Europe.

Amanita gemmata is known to be genetically close to Amanita muscaria, the Fly Agaric, and this close relationship should be a warning that this is not an edible mushroom.

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

Amanita gemmata, southern Portugal 2012

Distribution

Rare in Britain and Ireland, Amanita gemmata is very common in southern Europe, especially on the west coast of France and in northern and central Portugal. I have also come across these lovely little mushrooms in pine and cork oak woodland in the Algarve. This species is also recorded in many parts of North America (although it is as yet unclear whether they are in fact the same species as Amanita gemmata from Europe), and in parts of Asia and North Africa.

Amanita gemmata - Jewelled Amanita, Jewelled Amanita, in a French pine forest

Taxonomic history

This species was first described scientifically in 1838 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who named it Agaricus gemmatus. (Most of the gilled mushrooms were included initially in the genus Agaricus!) In 1866 the French statistician Louis-Adolphe Bertillon (1821 - 1883) transferred it to the genus Amanita, when its name became Amanita gemmata. Synonyms of this species include Amanita muscaria var. gemmata Quél., Amanitopsis gemmata Sacc., Amanitaria gemmata J-E Gilbert, and Venenarius gemmatus Murrill. Amanita junquillea Quél. is also considered by some authorities to be synonymous with Amanita gemmata.

Etymology

The specific epithet means gemmed or jewelled, and some people refer to Amanita gemmata as the Gemmed Amanita.

Psychoactive alkaloid content of Amanita gemmata

The Jewelled Amanita is known to contain the same psychoactive chemical compounds - ibotenic acid and muscimol - as are found in the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric, Amanita muscaria. (The concentrations of toxins in Amanita gemmata may be variable, and some authorities believe that this species may hybridise with Amanita pantherina, another hallucinogenic and hence toxic toadstool.) Amanita gemmata must therefore be treated as a toxic toadstool and should not be gathered for eating.

Identification guide

Cap with veil fragments

Cap

This lovely little mushroom of sandy soil nearly always has veil patches adhering to the pale ochre cap, which expands until flat or occasionally slightly depressed in the centre.

Pale ochre with darker centre; retaining white veil fragments mainly in centre; convex, flattening; 5 to 9cm across.

Gills of Amanita gemmata

Gills

White; adnexed; crowded.

Stem and volva of Amanita gemmata

Stem

White, tinted ochre; 7 to 10cm long, 1 to 1.5cm diameter; a short-lived stem ring falls away to leave an indistinct mark low down on stem; there is a short volva around its slightly swollen stem base.

Spores of Amanita gemmata

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal to globose, smooth, 9-11 by 7-8.5µm; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not significant

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorhizal with conifers, particularly pines, but occasionally reported from sites containing only hardwood trees (and possibly, therefore not actually the same Amanita species!), Amanita gemmata is most commonly seen on sandy soil in coastal pine forests on stable sand dunes.

Season

July to late November in Britain; several weeks later in southern Europe.

Similar species

Amanita citrina is usually larger and paler with white or citrine cap patches and a prominent stem ring.

Amanita gemmata - Jewelled Amanita, Jewelled Amanita, in a Pine woodland, Portugal

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.

Acknowledgements

This page includes a picture kindly contrubuted by David Kelly.

Other web pages about this species

Michael Kuo (USA)

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Pat O'Reilly

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