Amanita muscaria guessowii

Amanita muscaria guessowii DEFAULT

Amanitas: From Deadly to Delicious

Amanita muscaria var guessowii

A few years ago, Jenna and I spent a summer in the rural Costa Rican rainforest, interning at the environmental learning center Rancho Mastatal. The second day, Jenna decided to practice yoga, leaving me with an opportunity to ignore her repeated snake warnings and foolhardily wander off alone into the beckoning jungle. I knew there were only were a handful of venomous snake species in the area, and I approached the clearly blazed trail with all the fiery zeal I usually have in the North Country. Hopping from rock to rock to cross a small river, I was roused into a mid-step leap when I noticed a well-camouflaged snake, coiled in a thick ball and firmly holding its ground on the stone that I was about to step on. I barely managed to jump over the snake, which I soon learned was the deadly and highly territorial fer de lance, or terciopelo in Spanish. Unfortunately, my first encounter with the terciopelo was not my last; over the course of the summer I saw more of them than all other types of snake combined.

Amanitas are the terciopelos of the kingdom of fungi. Though the genus only accounts for a small percentage of all mushroom species, it contains some of the most ubiquitous and deadly, making it the culprit for 90% of deaths caused by mushroom poisoning. The vast majority of these deaths are from the destroying angel or death cap, both of which look meatier and more appetizing than most other deadly mushrooms, such as Galerina autumnalis, a nondescript LBM (little brown mushroom). A disproportionate number of people who die of Amanita poisoning in the United States are Southeast or East Asian immigrants, as the death cap bears more than a passing resemblance to the paddy straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea) popular in their homeland.

Incidentally, the Amanita genus is not only the province of death and destruction; it also contains some of the most beautiful and delicious of all mushrooms, such as the orange-red Amanita caesarea, or Caesar’s mushroom, prized by Roman emperors and contemporary Europeans alike. In fact, even the destroying angel and death cap taste pretty good, according to those who have lived to tell the tale. Of course, you should not even consider eating any of the edible Amanitas until you are an expert, though Caesar’s mushroom is the safest and most commonly enjoyed, with its orange cap and yellow gills and stalk.

Amanita muscaria var guessowii's warts are remnants of the universal veil.

Once you become familiar with Amanitas, you can recognize the genus from afar by its undeniable regal glow, what David Aurora calls the “Amanita aura” in his classic Mushrooms Demystified (264). Until then, you can distinguish Amanitas by the universal veil that envelops emerging mushrooms in an egg-like cocoon that can look dangerously similar to an edible puffball if you don’t slice it open. The universal veil soon gives way, leaving species-dependent remnants. Most species retain a trademark sack or collar-like volva at the base of the stalk, and some have a volval patch or warts on the cap. Many Amanitas are also equipped with a partial veil that covers the nascent gills, splitting to leave a ring or skirt called the annulus on the upper stalk as the mushroom matures. All Amanitas have white spores and white to off-white or yellow gills, and most are mycorrhizal and therefore found near living trees. 

In Ithaca, by far the two most common Amanita species I see are the all-white eastern destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) and the yellow-capped fly agaric, Amanita muscaria var guessowii, which is closely related to the quintessential red fly agaric of Mario Bros. fame. These mushrooms seem to have an unusual tolerance for drought, and they often stood out prominently this year against a tapestry of dry, cracking soil and crispy leaves. Ironically, the deadly destroying angel is deceptively innocuous looking, while the much less poisonous fly agaric screams “don’t eat me!” with its brightly colored, warty cap.

A young destroying angel. Note that the cap has not yet fully opened up, and the partial veil has not yet broken to form an annulus (ring) on the upper stalk.

The destroying angel and its equally deadly relative the death cap (Amanita phalloides) contain amatoxins that cause liver and kidney failure, leading to death in about 60% of cases. Amatoxins, also found in some Lepiota, Conocybe, and Galerina species, are sneaky toxins. Though they cause a bout of gastrointestinal malaise five to 24 hours after ingestion, these symptoms typically then retreat before coming back a full day later and taking their final toll of liver and kidney failure. Medical support should be sought immediately if you have reason to suspect you or a friend was poisoned, but there is no reliable cure for amatoxin poisoning. One Cornell student was lucky enough to survive a destroying angel poisoning in 2006 – read his story here. The destroying angel and the death cap both have volva and annulus, but the latter’s cap often contains greenish, yellowish, or olive hues.

However, a constellation of identifying features should always be used to distinguish any edible mushroom from an Amanita, as the annulus (ring) can fall off and the volva (sack at stem base) can be hidden underground or broken. Thus, the popular field mushrooms of the Agaricus genus, which have no volva, should always be dug up before eating. If you have even an iota of doubt about your “meadow mushroom,” take a spore print as well to rule out the white-spored Amanitas.

The fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) and its slightly more dangerous relative Amanita pantherina do not contain the amatoxins, instead possessing ibotenic acid that the body converts to muscimol. Though these mushrooms theoretically could be fatal in great quantities, there are responsible for very few reported deaths, but many sweaty, nauseated, occasionally enlightening trips. In fact, Amanita muscaria may be humanity’s oldest hallucinogen, enjoyed by Viking berserkers, contemporary Siberian shamans, and likely Vedic peoples as well. Muscimol passes through the body unmetabolized in the urine, a fact that has not escaped users of the sacrament throughout history. Some even claim that drinking the urine of somebody who has eaten the mushroom minimizes the negative physical effects and maximizes the psychedelic properties.

Amanita muscaria var guessowii

Whether or not this is true, the nature of ibotenic acid/muscimol poisoning does vary significantly depending on the regional variety as well as the preparation method, making recreational use inane. Common physical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, tiredness, loss of muscular coordination, heavy sweating, chills, twitching or convulsions. Cognitive effects range from harrowing to euphoric to harrowingly euphoric (think the Viking bersekers), and commonly include a feeling of heightened strength and an altered perception of the size of objects. No wonder Mario grows when he grabs a mushroom!

It’s not just digital Italian plumbers and berserkers who like the fly agaric –various animals apparently get their kicks from them as well! While maggots certainly tend to infest fly agaric stems, bigger-brained creatures also like to take part in the fun of helping these fungi spread their spores. There are many historical and anecdotal reports of reindeer eating them in Siberia, and mycologist Tom Volks says he has seen squirrels in Wisconsin hording their stash safely out of biped reach in a tree canopy. Indeed, while slug and insect damage are common on most mushroom species, the fly agaric is one of the only fungi I see that frequently has several large chomps taken out of the cap, clearly mammalian in origin. I have long wondered if the culprits are deer, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, or a combination of furry denizens of the forest. Perhaps one day I will put a “myco-cam” next to an emerging fly agaric and catch the guilty party red-handed!

Northwestern and European mushroom hunters have long known the fly agaric to be a porcini indicator, something I have found to be true of the yellow-capped Amanita muscaria var guessowii more common in the Northeast as well. Porcinis are currently in season in the Northeast, so be sure to pay extra attention if you spot a fly agaric in the woods!

Though Amanitas can be as deadly as even the fiercest terciopelo, they don’t bite! While even the most seasoned rainforest explorer can still fall victim to a deadly snake, mushroom experts do not die of Amanita poisoning. In fact, you don’t even have to be a mushroom expert to avoid having Amanitas for your last supper – all you have to do is be responsible, and only eat mushroom species whose identity you are 100% sure of. Many gourmet mushrooms are almost foolproof once you have basic training, such as black trumpets, lion’s mane, hen of the woods, and chicken of the woods. And, quite frankly, if you even have to consult a field guide to rule out whether your mushroom is a deadly Amanita or an edible look-a-like, you probably shouldn’t be eating it to begin with!


name Amanita muscaria var. guessowii author Veselý. 1933. Ann. Mycol. 31(4): status nomen acceptumenglish name "American Fly Agaric (yellow variant)" synonyms

Amanita muscaria var. formosa f. guessowii ("gussowii") (Veselý) Neville & Poumarat. 2002 ["2001"]. Bull. Trimestriel Soc. Mycol. France 117(4): 305.  [Misapplication.]


=Venenarius muscarius sensu Murrill. 1913. Mycologia 5: 94, pl. 87 (fig. 3).  [Misapplication.]


=Amanita muscaria sensu Güssow & O’dell. 1927. Mushr. Toadst.: 36, pl. 1 & 6.  [Misapplication.]


=Amanita muscaria var. formosa sensu Dav. T. Jenkins. 1977. Biblioth. Mycol. 57: 53. [Misapplication.  Amanita muscaria var. formosa Pers. is certainly not a North American taxon (Persoon said nothing to justify any such assumption) as proposed by Neville and Poumarat (2002, 2004), but more probably a color variant of the true A. muscaria.]

The editors of this site owe a great debt to Dr. Cornelis Bas whose famous cigar box files of Amanita nomenclatural information gathered over three or more decades were made available to RET for computerization and make up the lion's share of the nomenclatural information presented on this site.
etymology genetive of Latinized name, "Güssow's" or "of Güssow"MycoBank nos. 486234, 374047GenBank nos. Due to delays in data processing at GenBank, some accession numbers may lead to unreleased (pending) pages. These pages will eventually be made live, so try again later.
EU071863tef115.ix.2004 Maria Voitk & R. E. Tulloss [Tulloss 9-15-04-A] (RET 383-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071976nrLSU29.x.1998 45 yr. old, male poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-29-98-A] (RET 289-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071836beta-tubulinx.1987 Al Ferry s.n. [Tulloss 10-87-AF1] (RET 124-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071974nrLSU28.ix.1997 NJMA foray participants s.n. [Tulloss 9-28-97-C] (RET 271-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071992nrLSU17.ix.1997 Dorothy Smullen s.n. (RET 271-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071901nrITS29.x.1998 45 yr. old, male poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-29-98-A] (RET 289-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071989nrLSU15.x.1995 Sarah, Mary, & R. E. Tulloss 10-15-95-A (RET 158-7)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071833beta-tubulin15.ix.2004 Maria Voitk & R. E. Tulloss [Tulloss 9-15-04-A] (RET 383-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071839beta-tubulin28.ix.1997 NJMA foray participants s.n. [Tulloss 9-28-97-C] (RET 271-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071875tef129.ix.1999 male Italian immigrant poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 9-29-99-E] (RET 303-4)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071990nrLSU29.ix.1999 male Italian immigrant poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 9-29-99-E] (RET 303-4)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071893nrITS13.ix.2004 R. E. Tulloss, M. & A. Voitk s.n. (RET 383-7)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071919nrITS17.ix.1997 Dorothy Smullen s.n. (RET 271-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071916nrITS15.x.1995 Sarah, Mary, & R. E. Tulloss 10-15-95-A (RET 158-7)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071970nrLSU15.ix.2004 Maria Voitk & R. E. Tulloss [Tulloss 9-15-04-A] (RET 383-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071899nrITS28.ix.1997 NJMA foray participants s.n. [Tulloss 9-28-97-C] (RET 271-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071917nrITS29.ix.1999 male Italian immigrant poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 9-29-99-E] (RET 303-4)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071864tef128.ix.1997 NJMA foray participants s.n. [Tulloss 9-28-97-C] (RET 271-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071841beta-tubulin29.x.1998 45 yr. old, male poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-29-98-A] (RET 289-3)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
EU071896nrITSx.1987 Al Ferry s.n. [Tulloss 10-87-AF1] (RET 124-2)J. Geml et al. (2008), Molecular Microbial Ecology Lab., Univ. Alaska, Anchorage
lectotypes [search for syntypes not completed]intro Olive text indicates a specimen that has not been thoroughly examined (for example, for microscopic details) and marks other places in the text where data is missing or uncertain.

The following material not directly from the protolog of the present taxon is based upon original research by R. E. Tulloss. This description is obviously incomplete.  Since recent studies suggest that this "taxon" may have to be reinterpreted as a cluster of genetically segregated yellow variants of Amanita amerimuscaria Tulloss & Geml nom. prov. (proposed new name based on A. muscaria subsp. flavivolvata Singer), it is suggested that readers interested in the probable microscopic anatomy of the "yellow variant" make reference to the reported microscopic characteristics of the just named taxon.pileus 60 - 91 mm wide, margin yellow to pale yellow to orange-yellow with disk yellow-orange to orange to red-orange, sometimes entire pileus may be very pale if it is covered by detritus that protects it from sunlight, also decoloring in rain, hemispheric becoming convex then planoconvex and sometimes umbilicate, viscid when wet, tacky when drying, shiny when drying or dry; context ?, intense orange or yellow under pileipellis, fading to pale yellowish white in direction of lamellae, up to 10 mm thick over stipe, thinning evenly to margin; margin short striate (up to 0.2R), nonappendiculate; universal veil as warts or confluent warts irregularly distributed or approximately in concentric circles, subfloccose, pale yellow to pale sordid yellow fading to off-white to cream to sordid cream on exposure, detersile.lamellae free to very narrowly adnate, sometimes with short decurrent line on stipe apex, subcrowded to crowded, cream in mass, white to pale cream to cream in side view, 7.5 - 9 mm broad, with edge minutely flocculose with white material except near margin of pileus where such material is yellowish; lamellulae truncate, unevenly distributed, of diverse lengths, plentiful.stipe 69 - 120 × 10- - 15 mm, white to yellowish cream to pale yellow (in latter cases white at apex), becoming deeper yellow when handled, narrowing upward or narrowest at mid-height, flaring at apex, pulverulent above annulus, fibrillose to fibrous to squamulose and more or less longitudinally striatulate below; context pale yellowish white, unchanging when cut or bruised (unless senile?, then yellowing), solid to stuffed, with stuffing material comprising cottony white densely packed hyphae having roughly longitudinal orientation, with central cylinder 4± mm wide; bulb 20± × 20.5± mm, subglobose to subovoid to subventricose, often strikingly white, ?; partial veil whitish to very pale yellowish, thin, membranous, with thickened edge, median, pulverulent on upper surface, floccose on underside; universal veil in rings or broken rings on base of stipe above bulb, sometimes extending over several cm of stipe, sometimes more yellow than on pileus, fading and/or becoming sordid as on pileus.odor/taste Odor pleasantly fungoid.  Taste not reported.macrochemical
tests information not yet organized for presentation. (t.b.d.)  POISON.  Producing the Pantherine Syndrome in humans.lamella trama bilateral; wcs = 40 - 45 µm; (t.b.d.); clamps occasional.subhymenium wst-near = 70 - 120 µm; wst-far = 95 - 150 µm; (t.b.d.); clamps occasional.basidia (t.b.d.); clamps moderately common.universal veil On pileus: filamentous, undifferentiated hyphae ?? µm wide, branching, ??, with many having yellowish subrefractive walls; inflated cells terminal (clavate to ellipsoid to ??, up to 114 × 56 µm) or intercalary (fusiform, up to 89 × 20 µm), singly or in short chains, with walls up to 1.5 µm thick, ??; vascular hyphae 3.0 - 14.0 µm wide, branching, scattered, ??; clamps present.  On stipe base: ??.basidiospores [140/7/7] (7.0-) 9.0 - 12.0 (-14.8) × (5.9-) 6.5 - 8.2 (-9.5) µm, (L = 9.2 - 11.4 µm; L’ = 10.5 µm; W = 7.1 - 7.8 µm; W’ = 7.4 µm; Q = (1.09-) 1.28 - 1.56 (-1.70); Q = 1.30 - 1.49; Q’ = 1.43), thin-walled, smooth, hyaline, colorless, inamyloid, broadly ellipsoid to ellipsoid, occasionally elongate, infrequently subglobose, often adaxially flattened; apiculus sublateral, truncate-conic; contents dominantly monoguttulate; white in deposit.ecology In groups, often gregarious or in troops.  Prov. Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: In field, adjacent to forest edge with Picea glauca.  Prov. Québec: In dry loam and duff of mixed forest including Betula, Pinus strobus, etc. New Jersey: Under Picea abies or Pinus spp. or under Tsuga canadensis or in mixed coniferous forest.  North Carolina: On roadside under Picea engelmannii or under introduced Cedrus deodara.  West Virginia: Under P. strobus or under P. resinosa.material examined CANADA: NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR—Isl. of Newfoundland - Corner Brook, Humber Village Pond, 29.ix.2003 Maria & Andrus Voitk & R. E. Tulloss s.n. [Tulloss 9-29-03-A] (RET 270-7); GMNP, Killdevil Anglican Church Camp, tr. from camp to Lemona R., 15.ix.2004 Maria Voitk & R. E. Tulloss [Tulloss 9-15-04-A] (RET 383-3, β-tubulin & tef1) & nrLSU seq'd.; Stanleyville [49.4665° N/ 57.7805° W, 30 m], 13.ix.2004 R. E. Tulloss, M. & A. Voitk s.n. (RET 383-7, nrITS seq'd.).  QUÉBEC—Région Saugenay-Lac-Saint-Jean - Lac-Bouchette, L’Ermitage St. Antoine, behind Le Béthanie beside pedestrian tr., 31.viii.2006 R. E. Tulloss 8-31-06-B (RET 395-2).  U.S.A.: INDIANA—Monroe Co. - Bloomington, Leonard Springs [39.1104° N/ 86.0880° W, 286 m], 16.ix.2012 Stephen Russell s.n. [mushroomobserver. org #110016] (RET 534-9), 23.ix.2012 S. Russell s.n. [mushroomobserver. org #111015] (RET 533-3).  Vigo Co. - NE of Prairie Creek, Prairie Creek Park [39.2860° N/ 87.4654° W, 169 m], 22.ix.2012 Patrick Harvey s.n. [mushroomobserver. org #110834] (RET 517-8, nrITS seq'd.).  MAINE—Hancock Co. - Crocker Pond, 12.viii.1991 McVeigh s.n. [RET 8-12-91-B] (RET 031-4).  MASSACHUSETTS—Hampden Co. - Springfield, Forest Park, 28.vii.1986 Ellen Greer s.n. [Tulloss 7-28-86-EG5] (RET 466-8).  Unkn. Co. - N of Boston, x.1987 Al Ferry s.n. [Tulloss 10-87-AF1] (RET 124-2, nrITS seq'd.).  Unkn. Co. - unkn. loc., 1991 member Boston Mycol. Club s.n. (RET 034-4).  MICHIGAN—McComb Co. - Shelby Twp., ca. Washington, Stony Brook Metropolitan Pk. [42.73° N/ 83.07° W, 250-260 m], 30-31.viii.2011 Sandy Sheine s.n. (RET 491-2).  Washtenaw Co. - N of Dexter, Hudson Mills Metropark, 26.ix.1998 Heather Hallen Amus.980826.2 (MSU; RET 325-10). NEW JERSEY—Burlington Co. - Brendan T. Byrne St. For., Pakim Pond picnic area [39°52’47” N/ 74°31’59” W, 33 m], 15.x.1995 Sarah, Mary, & R. E. Tulloss 10-15-95-A (RET 158-7, nrITS seq'd.); Franklin Parker Preserve, w of Chatsworth [39°48.827’ N/ 74°32.857’ W, 29 m elev.], 5.x.2013 N. Burghardt s.n. (RET 574-2, nrITS & nrLSU seq'd.).  Camden Co. - Siklerville, 20.x.1998 19 mo. old female poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-20-98-A] (RET 289-1).  Cape May Co. - Belleplain St. For., Jakes Landing Rd., 21.x.2006 R. E. Tulloss 10-21-06-J (RET 398-9); Woodbine, 29.x.1998 45 yr. old male poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-29-98-A] (RET 289-3, β-tubulin & nrITS & nrLSU seq'd.).  Gloucester Co. - Glassboro, 14.x.1991 poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 10-14-91-B] (RET 034-1).  Mercer Co. - Princeton, Princeton Unitarian-Universalist Congregation, Mary A. Tulloss s.n. [Tulloss 6-21-09-A] (RET 429-1); Princeton Jct., 1.ix.1979 R. E. Tulloss 9-1-79-A (RET ??); West Windsor Twp., Village Rd. ca. Quaker Bridge Rd., 6.x.1980 R. E. Tulloss 10-6-80-A (RET ??), 16.ix.1981 Mary A. King & RET 9-16-81-D (RET 173-9).  Monmouth Co. - Roosevelt, Pine Dr., sewer treatment plant [40°12’49”N/74°28’19”W], 6.x.1996 Mary A. Tulloss & R. E. Tulloss 9-6-96-B (RET 251-7); unkn. loc., 29.ix.1999 male Italian immigrant poisoning victim s.n. [Tulloss 9-29-99-E] (RET 303-4, tef1 & nrITS & nrLSU seq'd.).  Somerset Co. - South Plainfield, 17.ix.1997 Dorothy Smullen s.n. (RET 271-3, nrITS & nrLSU seq'd.).  Sussex Co. - Stokes St. For., Mary & R. E. Tulloss 6-25-83-C (RET 218-8); Stokes St. Pk., Kittle Field Recreation Area, 28.ix.1997 NJMA foray participants s.n. [Tulloss 9-28-97-C] (RET 271-2, β-tubulin & tef1 & nrITS & nrLSU seq'd.).  NORTH CAROLINA—Gaston Co. - Gaston Memorial Cemetery, ix.1995 Henry Rhyne s.n. (RET ??).  Iredell Co. - 0.3 km N of Spring Shore Dr. on Pineville Rd., x.1995 A. Stanley s.n. (RET ??).  McDowell Co. - Gooch Gap, along Blue Ridge Pkwy., 30.ix.2006 Pat & Owen Campbell & R. E. Tulloss s.n. [Tulloss 9-30-06-B] (RET 397-1).  PENNSYLVANIA—Allegheny Co. - North Park, 16.ix.2006 W. Penn. Mushr. Club foray participant s.n. [Tulloss 9-16-06-B] (RET 394-9); Pittsburgh, 216 Farmington Rd. [40.5032° N/ 79.9079° W, 325 m], 21.ix.2013 Cecily Franklin s.n. [WPMC 20130921-92] (RET 567-5).  Luzerne Co. - W of Nanticoke, Hunlock Crk. [41.2014° N/ 76.0824° W, 380 m], 10.ix.2012 David Wasilewski s.n. [mushroomobserver #109404] (RET 526-9, nrITS seq'd.).  OHIO—Butler Co. - ca. Oxford, Miami University Bachelor Wildlife Preserve, 7.xi.1992 Jeffrey Studer 23 (RET), 26 (RET). WEST VIRGINIA—Marion Co. - Fairmont, Fairmont St. Coll. campus, 30.x.1980(?) S. L. Stephenson 270 (FWVA), 13.ix.1982 Thais Salazar s.n. [S. L. Stephenson 601] (FWVA), 8.x.1982 Fred Tawny s.n. [S. L. Stephenson 603] (FWVA), 10.x.1982 Tom Asher s.n. [S. L. Stephenson 604] (FWVA).  WISCONSIN—Bayfield Co. - Cable [46.2019° N/ 91.2656° W, 400m], 23.ix.1013 Britt Bunyard s.n. (RET 572-9).  Unkn. State—unkn. loc., x.1991 W. Bakaitis s.n. (RET ??).discussion This name is currently believed to apply to a group of yellow variants of Amanita muscaria subsp. flavivolvata, which, moreover, is not truly assignable to A. muscaria.

A phylogenetic study of the North American and Eurasian muscarioid taxa has appeared (Geml et al. 2008); allied taxonomic studies are in draft (by Tulloss, Geml, et al.).

t.b.d.citations —R. E. Tullosseditors RET
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Amanita Muscaria or Fly Agaric Mushroom

Yellow Amanita muscaria var guessowii in the woods

A nice fruiting of Amanita muscaria var guessowii in Wisconsin which has a yellow cap instead of the more commonly known red. These can appear occasionally in great numbers, typically under aspen in the fall. 

Volumes have been written about it, and it’s subtly pervaded Anglo Saxon culture. If you have ever seen a lawn with garden gnomes, watched Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s Fantasia, played Super Mario Brothers, or been to a thrift store that sells kitschy trinkets, you’ve seen the influence. It’s Amanita muscaria, also known as the fly agaric, and it is a bit of a moot point in the mycological world, as well as others. Claims have been made that it’s the inspiration for Santa Claus, thousand year old spiritual texts, even the origin of Christianity via it’s involvement in ancient fertility religions. In Eastern Europe it is a symbol of good luck and the yuletide. 

For this post, I’m referring specifically to Amanitamuscaria var guessowii, which is the only species I’ve harvested and eaten. 

Young and mature Amanita muscaria guessowii

All in all it is an impressive mushroom to find, and I’ve come across muscaria with caps nearly a foot long in diameter.  Our Midwest version is different from the classic European one in that it is bright yellow instead of red, and, for the record, my images and culinary experience are limited to Amanita muscaria var. Guessowii. I have never eaten European species, muscaria species with a red cap from the United States, or Amanita pantherina, a cousin. 

Fly Agaric

The name is supposedly derived from the mushrooms ability to act as a fly killer. Supposedly if the mushroom is crushed and placed in milk, it will attract flies and kill them. This is reflected in some of it’s names: “tue mouche” (fly killer-French), “mukhomor” (fly killer-Russian), “fliegenpilz” (fly mushroom-German). Accounts of it’s fly killing success vary however, some say it just makes flies buzz around like they’re drunk.

A Poisonous Edible Mushroom

The fly agaric is fascinating because it is poisonous and edible and the same time. Most field guides even say that it can be fatal. There is only one death that I see popping up again and again. Basically a 300lb Italian count ate something in the neighborhood of  3 dozen mushrooms and died while he was visiting the states. He also had a friend who ate many as well, who fell ill, went to the hospital, and recovered.  Original Count De Vecchi Article.  Even so, many people eat muscaria, and most say it is quite good. The mushroom must be boiled in water to remove the toxins before eating though.

Narcotic Properties + Black Market 

Amanita Muscaria is not “poisonous” per se, rather it is a hallucinogen/narcotic. When you eat it dried, freshly cooked, or drink water it has been cooked in, you will become intoxicated, or possibly just get sick and vomit all over the place. The intoxication is often compared to being incredibly drunk, as opposed to a more cerebral experience talked about when ingesting psilocybin mushrooms, like those that indigenous South American populations ate to gain visions and visit the spirit world. The variety we have in Minnesota should be Amanita var. guesowii, known to frequent the upper Midwest and identifiable by it’s orange-yellow cap as opposed to the traditionally known red capped variety.

The gills of Amanita muscaria guessowii

Under the cap.

Some people that ingest this mushroom for narcotic purposes say that the yellow muscaria are not as powerful as the red ones, others also say that it will only make you sick. I can tell you that I do not doubt it’s narcotic effect, at all. I know from personal experience dealing with alternative medicine stores in Minnesota that muscaria has, in the past, been one of the fastest selling products offered, moving out as quick as it comes in and commanding quite the wait list. Sale of muscaria is legal, for now, and probably will remain that way, especially the way legalization is going, which I think is a good thing, for the record, mushrooms being a natural substance and all.

Amanita Muscaria guessowii showing anulus and bulbous stem

Note the bell-shaped bottom and ring around the stem near the cap (anulus).

ID and Look a Likes 

As far as amanitas go, this is the most easily identifiable, although there is the possibility of confusing it with with amanita flaviconia,(also known as “yellow patches”), which has an unknown edibility. Amanita flaviconia is about 1/10th of the size of muscaria, and also fruits solitary from my experience, where muscaria will be found in awe-inspiring fruitings, with many mushrooms in the area.\


I only see muscaria under young aspen in the fall, around September in Minnesota and Wisconsin. “Yellow patches” I see in deciduous forest with many oaks, typically around my chanterelle patches. Confusing amanita pantherina is considered a danger as well, since it is much, much more powerful in regards to it’s chemical components than muscaria. Of course, deathcap Amanitas are important to rule out too, but if you can’t tell those apart instantly from muscaria, you have no place messing with these mushrooms in the first place beyond appreciating their beauty. amanita muscaria minnesota variety

This knife has a 5inch blade, these are large mushrooms, amanita flaviconia is never this size.

Siberians and Muscaria

Mostly we hear about Siberian tribes eating the muscaria, a certain group called the Koryaks, a nomadic group that rely on reindeer as part of their culture. Basically the males eat the mushrooms and get very intoxicated. However, if the mushrooms are cooked and boiled in water beforehand, the toxins are extracted, and the mushrooms are perfectly safe to eat. The funky part about the ibotenic acid in muscaria mushrooms(what makes you become intoxicated) is that your body will not absorb all of it, and that it is passed through your urine. Apparently the urine could be used up to 5-6 times, which is a strange thought. Here is the account from R. Gordon Wasson, an amateur mycologist who wrote quite a book regarding muscaria:

“The Russians who trade with them (Koryak – a tribe on the Kamchatka peninsula), carry thither a kind of mushrooms, called in the Russian tongue, Muchumor, which they exchange for Squirils, Fox, Hermin, Sable, and other Furs. Those who are rich among them lay up large provisions of these mushrooms, for the winter. When they make feast, they pour water upon some of these Mushrooms and boil them. They then drink the liquor, which intoxicates them; The poorer sort who cannot afford to lay in a store of these mushrooms, post themselves on these occasions, round the huts of the rich and watch the opportunity of the guests comind down to make water. And then hold a wooden bowl to receive the urine which they drink off greedily, as having still some virtue of the mushroom in it and by this way they also get drunk.” 

From Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality

amanita muscaria minnesota

Hiding in the grass under young aspen-their preferred tree where I live in the Midwest. 


These are good, better than the blushers I’ve eaten, but not as good as Amanita caesarea or Muscaria need to be processed before eating by boiling. When I first ate them I was a little nervous, I mean its an Amanita after all, the family home to the most deadly mushrooms we know! As for how to detoxify muscaria for cooking, most accounts say to boil them twice then drain well to remove moisture, afterword they’re ready for cooking as you would another mushroom. 

Cutting up Amanita muscaria guessowii for cooking/detoxifying

Cut the muscaria up before boiling to help along the detoxification process.

After detoxification, one method I’ve liked is dredging them in a little flour and frying crisp, served with a lemon wedge. I’ve also enjoyed them marinated in garlic, oil and herbs Italian style, or just pickled. Some people say that they only eat the caps of these, but the whole mushroom is good. Cooked muscaria, like some othe Amanitas, have a nice texture, and the stems are a bit reminiscent of calamari. 

Cooked, detoxified and edible Amanita muscaria guessowii

Boiled muscaria, ready for cooking. The texture of the stems is reminiscent of calamari to me. They keep a decent flavor for having been boiled for an extended period of time.

Detoxified Muscaria

The tried and true recipe for making Amanita muscaria safe to eat I use. After detoxifying, they can be cooked as you would any other mushroom. You can use the proportion of mushrooms to liquid here as a guide for cooking smaller or larger amounts.


  • 1 lb Amanita Muscaria
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 qts 1.5 gallons water

Aromatics (optional, try this after your first time)

  • A handful of crushed garlic cloves
  • Sliced onions
  • Dried bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, or your favorite herb, preferably fresh.


  • Trim the muscaria and look them over for debris like leaves, etc. Cleaning is not a huge deal here as they will be boiled to the beyond, and vigorous water will remove most stubborn debris, but it’s good practice.
  • Put the mushrooms, salt and water into a large pasta pot (if you want to add aromatics, add them now) cover, turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. When you notice the water has started to boil, start a timer for 15 minutes, keeping the pot covered the entire time, with the heat on high. If the pot threatens to overflow while boiling, it’s ok to turn the heat down slightly, but the liquid should still be at a vigorous boil.
  • After fifteen minutes, remove the mushrooms from the pot, refresh them and swish in cool water, then lay on a tray with paper towels to dry, pressing down on them once or twice with more dry towels. Drying the mushrooms helps them not pop in the pan if you will cook them in fat afterwords. If you will add the mushrooms to soup, there is no need to dry them.
  • From here, the mushrooms can be cooked like any other mushroom, but will shine in soups, pickles, and long, slow sautes. They keep a remarkable flavor for something boiled in water for so long.
  • It’s good to start small as a precaution.
  • For your first time, I recommend starting with about 2 ounces of cooked mushrooms. If, the next day, if you haven’t noticed anything unusual in your digestion, feel free to consume more.



I think it’s best not to feed mushrooms that require detoxification to people unless the need for the detoxification process has been clearly explained to them.

Fermented Muscaria:  A Dwindling Japanese Tradition 

Yep. David Arora shared a bunch of pictures from different trips he took to Japan, and wouldn’t you know it, Muscaria are gathered as a food there (funny enough, porcini aren’t, and David mentioned some of the Japanese mushroom hunters he met thought they were poisonous! The irony!). 

“Beni-tengutake is the Japanese name for Amanita muscaria. It means “red tengutake,” tengutake being their version of A. pantherina.  Tengu is a mythical folk character with multiple meanings and attributes (see”–David Arora. 

For the fermented pickles, muscaria are boiled for 20-30 minutes, then drained, rinsed clean, dried, and mixed with a proportion of salt and water. The man who demonstrated the technique mentioned he liked stirring the finished fermented pickles into miso soup. 

Fermented Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms

Amanita Muscaria mushrooms seasoned with salt and fermented in brine inspired by the Traditional Japanese technique. You can also pickle the mushrooms with vinegar for a fine result if you aren't experienced with fermenting.
Keyword: Fermentation, Fermented wild mushrooms


  • Amanita Muscaria as fresh as possible
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • Splash of whey or juice from another ferment


Detoxify the mushrooms

  • Follow the recipe above for detoxifying.


  • Remove the mushrooms and dry them very well then put them in a glass jar.
  • Put the jar on a scale, add water to cover the mushrooms by 1/2 inch, weighing the water and mushrooms in grams as you pour it in. Multiply the grams by .03 or 3%, then add that many grams of salt to the jar. A pint jar is a good place to start, for that, you can use a tablespoon of kosher salt, or roughly 13 grams. Also remember that a pint is one pound, or 448 grams, and 448 x .03 = 13.44 grams of salt. (You can use anywhere from 2-5% salt here for reference).
  • Shake the jar, weigh the mushrooms down with a clean stone or clingfilm, screw on the lid, and leave in a dish to catch any liquid at room temperature for 5 days, and up to 10, or until they're soured to your liking. The mushrooms should be covered with liquid the entire time.
  • After that, refrigerate the mushrooms. The mushrooms will continue to age a bit in the fridge. If you want a stronger flavor, leave them out for another day or two, tasting them regularly.
  • They'll last for a long time if always kept completely submerged in liquid, and will continue to develop as they age.


Fermenting without a vacuum bag

You can also pack the mushrooms into a jar with a weight on them as you would sauerkraut, if you want to do that, tare your fermentation container on a scale to 0, then add the mushrooms and water to cover. Multiply the combined weight in grams of the mushrooms and water by .03, then add that amount of salt in grams, stir to dissolve, and put a weight on the mushrooms to keep them under the brine, then ferment per usual. 

by Michael Kuo

This variety of the well known species Amanita muscaria is distinguished by its yellow to orange, rather than red, cap. Other trademark features are shared with the red version: numerous warts on the cap, a ring on the upper stem, and a distinctive stem base that features several shaggy "zones" of universal veil material on the upper edge of a basal bulb. Amanita muscaria var. guessowii is found in the northern Midwest and in eastern North America from the boreal forests of the northeast, south to the Appalachians.

In northern Michigan Amanita muscaria var. guessowii fruits in great quantities, regularly attaining dinner-plate size. Since it is a fairly gregarious mushroom, one often finds large troops of these mammoth Amanitas lurking under quaking aspen at the edges of fields.

Compare this mushroom closely with Amanita muscaria var. flavivolvata and Amanita muscaria var. persicina, both of which have ranges that partially overlap the range of var. guessowii. Also compare with Amanita gemmata and Amanita russuloides, which can look superficially similar but feature very different stem bases.

This mushroom is often featured in field guides as "Amanita muscaria var. formosa," but the variety name formosa designates a European variety (and one that is not consistently described in European literature). However, the varietal epithet guessowii represents a North American mushroom, and was first applied by Veselý (1933) to recognize the version of Amanita muscaria described by Hans Güssow, a Canadian author.

The taxonomy of the Amanita muscaria species group will very likely change in the near future. A 2006 study by Geml and collaborators found DNA support for the idea that the color of the cap and warts in Amanita muscaria is not necessarily indicative of phylogenetic differences. The study used molecular dating techniques to hypothesize that "[t]he ancestral population of A. muscaria likely evolved in the Siberian-Beringian region and underwent fragmentation . . . The data suggest that these populations later evolved into species, expanded [sic] their range in North America and Eurasia" (225). As for the traditional morphological features separating "varieties," the researchers noted that among the species determined by DNA, "[a]ll . . . share at least two morphological varieties with other species, suggesting ancestral polymorphism in pileus and wart color pre-dating their speciations."


Ecology: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods and conifers; growing alone, scattered, or or gregariously, sometimes in arcs or fairy rings; summer and fall; widely distributed in the northern Midwest (south to Illinois) and in northeastern North America (south to the Appalachians).

Cap: 5-19 cm; nearly round at first, becoming convex, broadly convex, or nearly flat in age; bald; pale yellow to bright yellow, reddish orange, or orange-yellow, fading with age; adorned with numerous whitish to yellowish, cottony warts (or, sometimes, felty patches); sticky when fresh; the margin usually slightly lined.

Gills: Narrowly attached to the stem or free from it; white; close or crowded; short-gills infrequent, usually confined to the marginal area.

Stem: 6-30 cm long; 1-3.5 cm thick; usually tapering to apex and flaring to an enlarged basal bulb; typically somewhat shaggy; white; with a fragile, whitish, skirtlike ring that sometimes features a yellowish edge; with concentric, rim-like bands of universal veil at the top of the bulb.

Flesh: White throughout; unchanging when sliced.

Odor: Not distinctive.

Chemical Reactions: KOH negative on cap surface.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 9-14 x 5.5-8 µ; smooth; broadly ellipsoid; inamyloid. Basidia 4-spored; often basally clamped. Pileipellis an ixocutis of hyphae 2-9 µ wide. Lamellar trama bilateral; subhymenium ramose.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Guessowii amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria var. guessowii

Variety of fungi

Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, commonly known as the American yellow fly agaric, is a basidiomycetefungus of the genus Amanita. It is one of several varieties of the Amanita muscaria fungi, all commonly known as fly agarics.



The cap is 4.5–16 (18) cm wide, convex, and becomes broadly convex to flat in age. It is bright yellow or yellow-orange, usually more orange or reddish orange towards the disc, and fading to pale yellow. The volva is distributed over the cap as cream to pale tan warts; it is otherwise smooth and sticky when wet. The margin becomes slightly striate in age. The flesh is white and it does not stain when cut or injured.


The gills are free to narrowly adnate, subcrowded to crowded, cream to pale cream, truncate, unevenly distributed, of diverse lengths, and plentiful.


Amanita muscaria var. guessowiispores are white in deposit, broadly ellipsoid to ellipsoid (infrequently subglobose or elongate) and inamyloid. The spores are (7.0–) 8.7-12.2 (-14.8) x (5.9) 6.5–8.2 (9.5) µm.


The stipe is (4)6 –15 x 1–3 cm, more or less equal or narrowing upwards and slightly flaring at the apex. It is white to yellowish cream, densely stuffed with a pith, the skirtlike ring is membranous, persistent, the lower stipe and upper bulb are decorated with partial or complete concentric rings of volval material that are bright pale yellow to cream or sordid cream.

Microscopic features[edit]

Clamps are present at bases of the basidia.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Amanita muscaria var. guessowii is found growing solitary or gregariously, it is mycorrhizal with conifers mostly but also deciduous trees as well, it is found often in the fall but sometimes in the spring, common in the northeast, from eastern Canada to North Carolina west to Michigan.[1]


As other amanita muscaria, the guessowii variety contains ibotenic acid and muscimol which can cause hallucinations. As with other wild-growing mushrooms, the amounts depends on a lot of external factors, including season, age, and habitat, and it can also vary from mushroom to mushroom.


  • Amanita muscaria DWC 7656.jpg
  • Amanita muscaria var. formosa pic 2.jpg
  • Amanita muscaria var. formosa pic 3.jpg

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

What Are The \

I know him. This is ammonia. You are a doctor and you told me how to help a person who has lost consciousness. It is completely dark outside the window.

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Up, but at the same time slender (although at school he was slightly fat or, rather, "well-fed") lad with a round, good-natured face, gray green eyes, short hair, a hedgehog, and a big muscular ass that stood out well in any clothes :-) He knew neither that I was gay, nor my hobby for enemas. at 11 o'clock, on Friday, just sit and chat, play together on his computer in Dune.

" Serezha was alone at home, parents at work, a 16-year-old younger brother at school.

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