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Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) Identification

Death cap / Summer/Autumn/ Deadly

Common Name

Death Cap

None Edible

Deadly Toxic!!

Botanical Name

Amanita phalloides

Meaning of Botanical Name

Phalloides refers to the shape of the young mushroom emerging from its egg sack.



Known Hazards

DEADLY, this mushroom contains amotoxin, which in the first 6-12 hours after eating cause severe gastric upsets, those symptoms pass and the consumer is fine until day 3-4 when the severe liver and kidney damage has been done which leads to coma and death. (half a cap is enough to kill a human)

Could be confused with

The Fase Death Cap (Amanita Citrina) this mushroom smells strongly of raw potato and often has veil ( egg sack) reminants on the cap.
Field mushrooms (Agaricus Campestris) These mushrooms have pink to brown black gills not white and dont have a boulbous base or egg sace reminants at the base of the stem


The Death Cap occurs throughout Britain and Ireland and can also be found in other mainland European countries at low altitudes, the death cap is found also in northern Africa, many parts of Asia,  and the USA . Other parts of the world, including Australia and South America, now contain the death cap due tree imports.


The death cap is mycorhizal with  Oak trees

Physical Characteristics  


Like all amanita this mushroom grows from a volva (egg sack)

GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


The cap is olive-brown and quite shiny, it doesnt have any warts or spots but does look fibrous towards the edge of the cap. Its often darker in the centre of the cap. Dome shaped when young and flattening with age, the edge is prone to splitting when dry.

Krzysztof Slusarczyk, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


The gills are crowded and white, they are adnexed (narrowly joined to the stem) with age the gills begin to turn more of a creamy colour.

Michel Langeveld, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem & Skirt

The tall stem is creamy coloured with zig-zag like scales, it has a large striped veil (skirt).

The base is surrounded by the white volva (egg sack)

Repina Tatyana, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Slight sweet floral smell, becoming sickly as it matures



Edible Use

None- Do Not Eat This Mushroom!

Folklore, Tall Tales and not so Folklore

The roman Emperor Claudius was believed to of been poisoned by his wife with the death cap, she made him a meal of Caesar’s mushrooms and added some death caps. Also Emperor Charles the VI died due to death cap poisoning. The death cap has been the weapon of many poisoners through the centuries especially by ancient Greeks and Romans.

This image was created by user Justin Pierce (JPierce) at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images.You can contact this user here.English | español | français | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | português | +/−, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons