Amanita vaginata (Bull.) Fr. - Grisette

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

Amanita vaginata - Grisette

Unlike many other Amanita species, Amanita vaginata, the Grisette, does not have a ring on its stem. Grisettes are not poisonous, but they are easily confused with Deathcaps.

Distribution

Infrequent in most parts of Britain and Ireland, Amanita vaginata can, however, be locally common. This species is also found throughout most of mainland Europe and in many parts of North America, where it is quite common.

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

Amanita vaginata - Grisette, a young fruitbody

Taxonomic history

When French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard described this species in 1782 he named it Agaricus vaginatus. (Most of the gilled mushrooms were included initially in the genus Agaricus!) Then in 1783, the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries moved it into the genus Amanita and gave it the name Amanita vaginata which it retains to this day.

Other Amanita species without stem rings include Amanita fulva, the Tawny Grisette, which at one time was considered to be merely a colour variant of Amanita vaginata, and Amanita crocea, the Orange Grisette.

Synonyms of Amanita vaginata that are no longer in current use include Agaricus vaginatus Bull., Agaricus plumbeus Schaeff., and Amanitopsis vaginata (Bull.) Roze.

Etymology

The specific epithet vaginata comes from the Latin vaginatus, meaning 'protected by a sheath'; it is a reference to the sheathing form of the volva that surrounds the stem base..

The common name 'Grisette' comes from the French word gris which means grey and was also applied to a coarse grey woollen material. The name was by association given to young working-class French women who wore grey dresses made from this material.

Identification guide

Cap of Amanita vaginata, Grisette

Cap

Grisettes have caps 5 to 10cm diameter; grey, normally retaining no velar remains. Initially egg-shaped, the cap expands to become flat but always with a small raised central area (an umbo). The edge of the cap is striated (with comb-like radial ridges). Below the pellicle (skin of the cap) the flesh is white and firm.

Gills of Amanita vaginata, Grisette

Gills

White, adnexed (only slightly attached to the stem) or sometimes free; crowded.

Stem and volva of Amanita vaginata, Grisette

Stem

The stem of Amanita vaginata ranges from 12 to 20cm long and 1 to 1.5cm in diameter, tapering only slightly (narrower near the cap); white or tinged with the cap colour. The stipe usually becomes hollow as the fruitbody matures. 

Volva

There is no stem ring on this Amanita species; however, at the base of the stipe there is a large white sack-like volva.

Spores of Amanita vaginata

Spores

Spherical, smooth, 8-12µm in diameter; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Spore and basidium of Amanita vaginata

Basidia

4-spored.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Amanita vaginata, the Grisette, is an ectomycorrhizal fungus; it is found in deciduous forests and occasionally in mixed woodland.

Season

July to October in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Amanita ceciliae often has a more orange-tinged cap with grey veil fragments, and it has a distinctive snakeskin pattern on the stem.

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

Amanita crocea has a yellowish-orange cap with an apricot tinge at the centre. It has cream rather than white gills, and a sweet smell and a nutty taste.

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.

A pale young Grisette

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.

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