Amanita porphyria Alb. & Schwein. - Grey Veiled Amanita

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

Amanita porphtyria, Grey Veiled Amanita

Commonly referred to as the Grey Veiled Amanita, Amanita porphyria is rather variable in colouring and stature and might easily be mistaken for either a Panthercap, Amanita pantherina or, rather more likely, the Grey Spotted Amanita, Amanita excelsa.

Amanita porphyria has a purplish-brown cap that blends in well with conifer needle and leaf litter on forest floors, making it one of the most easily overlooked of the Amanita species.

Amanita porphyria, New Forest, Hampshire, England

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

Distribution

An uncommon find in Britain and Ireland, Amanita porphyria occurs also in many parts of mainland Europe and is reported from North America, although there is some doubt as to whether the Grey Veiled Amanitas that occur on either side of the Atlantic Ocean are indeed one and the same species.

Taxonomic history

Described in 1805 by German mycologist Johannes Baptista von Albertini (1769 - 1831) and America mycologist Lewis David von Schweinitz (1780 - 1834), who gave it the binomial name Amanita porphyria, the Grey Veiled Amanita is still generally referred to by that scientific name.

Synonyms of Amanita porphyria include Agaricus recutitus Fr., Agaricus porphyrius (Alb. & Schwein.) Fr., and Amanita recutita (Fr.) Gillet.

Etymology

The specific epithet porphyria comes from the Greek adjective porphyrius, which translates to 'clad in purple'.

Identification guide

Cap of Amanita porphyria

Cap

Hemispherical then convex and finally flattening, 5 - 10cm diameter; various shades of purplish brown, darker in the centre and often appearing to be radially lined with purplish-brown fibres; shiny; usually retaining irregular purplish-grey veil fragments of the universal veil; margin not striate. The flesh of the cap is white or pale cream.

Stem and volva of Amanita porphyria

Stem

The stem of Amanita porphyria is 6 - 11cm long and 0.6 - 1.4cm in diameter, tapering towards the apex; whitish, with fine striations above the ring, and (increasingly evident as the fruitbody matures) with violaceous grey-brown longitudinal fibres below the ring; a superior persistent white ring soon collapses against the surface of the stem.

The volva comprises short irregular whitish plaques on the bulbous stem base.

Gills of Amanita porphyria

Gills

Like most Amanita species, Amanita porphyria has free gills, which are white and fairly crowded (but much less so than in the case of Amanita spissa).

Spores of Amanita porphyria

Spores

Globose or sub-globose; less commonly broadly ellipsoidal, 7.2-9 x 7.8-11µm; amyloid.

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Spore print

White.

Basidia of Amanita porphyria

Basidia

4-spored.

Clamps are not present at the bases of basidia.

Odour/taste

Odour unpleasant, earthy; taste, mild but not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorhizal softwood trees and less often with hardwoods on acidic soil; also reported to occur on heathland, where it may be mucorrhizal with heather..

Season

July to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Amanita pantherina has white (not purplish-grey) velar remains on the cap.

Amanita rubesens has flesh that turns pink when it is cut or torn.

Amanita excelsa has much larger spores; its gills are more densely crowded and it has a more robust stem ring.

Culinary Notes

The Grey Veiled Amanita Amanita porphyria is called as inedible and might possibly contain dangerous toxins, as several other species from this genus do. This species should not be gathered for eating.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly, 2011.

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

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.

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