Deathcap - Amanita phalloides

Deathcap - Amanita phalloides

Deadly poisonous mushroom - intermediate identification

Other common names: Death Cap, Death Cup, Green Deathcap, Deathcap Amanita, Deadly Amanita, Stinking Amanita

Scientific name meaning: Amanita originates from the Greek Amanitai, which is though to mean "of the Amanus", which is a range of mountains in Turkey. Phalloides is from the Latin Phallus, and a reference to the phallic appearance of the young Deathcap emerging from the volva or universal veil 

Spore print: White

Deathcap Habitat

Habitat and season

Mycorrhizal with deciduous trees, especially Oak, and sometimes coniferous trees. It fruits in Summer and Autumn

Growth and appearance

The young Deathcap is contained within an egg-like universal veil or volva, which it burst out through. It finally becomes a cap and stem mushroom and can appear as loan individuals through to large groups

Cap

Starting off white, the cap matures to a yellow- to olive-green with a darker central area. It is egg-shaped, then domed and finally flattens when mature, reaching 5 - 15cm wide. Older specimens may have a cracked edge. There is a white variant, which has a cap that remains white at maturity 

Gills

White, broad, crowded and free of the stem. However, they can turn cream or slightly pinkish with age

Stem

White to off-white in colour, the stem is 5 - 15cm tall and 1 - 1.5cm wide. It has zig-zag like markings, tapers slightly upwards. It has a large dangling ring, which has striations, and retains a large floppy volval sack at its swollen base. The inside of the volva is often tinged yellow-green

Flesh, taste and smell

The flesh is white sometimes with a yellowish tinge, especially in the cap area. Older specimens have a sickly, nauseous smell. This mushroom is deadly poisonous so should not be tasted

Possible lookalikes

Could be confused with other Amanita, such as the False Deathcap. However, the False Deathcap smells of raw potato and has a swollen guttered base, rather than a floppy volval sack. Has been confused with Agaricus species, but these have grey-white, then pink, then dark brown gills and no volva

Toxicity Deadly poisonous

Poisoning Contains several toxins including  amatoxins and phallotoxins. Phallotoxins cause severe food poisoning-like symptoms. The amatoxins, in particular, alpha-amanatin, inhibit RNA polymerase II, an enzyme needed for messenger RNA synthesis, and therefore halting protein synthesis. This leads to liver and kidney failure

Use in medicine Some research into the potential use of alpha-amanatin as an inhibitor of cancer cell growth in lymphatic leukemia. This mushroom is deadly poisonous and should not be consumed

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Importance to other species None known

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

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