Saturday, July 23, 2011
Some of the most beautiful, but most deadly fungi are a group of species collectively known as the death angel. A single specimen of any of these three mushrooms, Amanita bisporigera, Amanita virosa, and Amanita verna, can be deadly. All three species are pure white, with white gills that are free from the stalk. All have an annulus, or ring (which is the remnant of the partial veil, which protects the gills as they are developing) around the stalk. All three have a volva, or cup at the base, which is the remnant of the universal veil that surrounded the young fruiting body primordium. Like all Amanita species, they are mycorrhizal, which means they have a symbiotic (mutualistic) association with the host tree. In our part of the country the association is with oak (Quercus spp.) trees, but in other parts of the country the association may be with other hardwoods or conifers.