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Grey Spotted Amanita (Amanita Excelsa) Identification

Grey Spotted Amanita / Summer / Autumn / Edible

Scientific Name

Amanita Excelsa


Common Names

Grey Spotted Amanita, False Panther Cap, Grey Warted Amanita.


Family

Amanitaceae


Habitat

They are mycorrhizal with quite a few different trees including, oak, birch, chestnut, spruce and pine. Most often found along the edges of woodlands.


Description 

An edible member of the Amanita family but definitely not a beginners mushroom! Their lookalike is the Panther Cap (Amanita Pantherina) which is potentially deadly!

There are actually two variants of this mushroom, Amanita Excelsa variant excelsa and Amanita Excelsa variant spissa. Spissa is much more common in the UK and is slightly darker in colour. It’s more of interest to the mycologist rather than to the forager. We tend to treat them as one.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

Domed when young the caps flatten out and sometimes become concave as they mature. They are grey/brown in colour and the surface is covered with the grey remains or fragments of their universal veil. These fragments can easily be brushed off or washed off by the rain so aren’t always present.

Björn S…, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

They are fairly stout and white to off white in colour, with a robust ring or skirt towards the cap. The top of the ring is grooved, the grooves go up towards the gills. Above the ring the stem is smooth or gently striated, below the ring there are white scales. The stem is bulbous at the base rather than ended in a volva.

A.excelsa.jpg:Luridiformis at en.wikipediaderivative work: Ak ccm, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

The gills are white, fairly crowded and are free or very slightly adnexed.

Free Gills
Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell:

Variant excelsa has a faint raddishy smell, variant spissa has an unpleasant smell.


Spores:

White.


Uses

In food

They must be thoroughly cooked before consumption. They do contain some toxins but these are destroyed by heat.

The taste and texture is pleasant but due to the risk of confusing them with deadly Amanitas, most likely the Panther Cap they’re not very often collected.


Harvesting     

Not for the novice. Only experienced or stupid foragers collect ring-less Amanitas. The flavour is nothing particularly special so their best left alone.


Known hazards

They do contain some toxins so must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.


Potential lookalikes

They do look very similar in the Panther Cap (Amanita Pantherina) so should only be collected by experienced foragers. The Panther Cap has a smooth skirt and the veil that remains on the cap surface are white rather than grey.

The Blusher (Amanita Rubescens) could also look similar but its flesh bruises red. The Blusher is also edible.


Extra Notes

Excelsa is a Latin adjective that translates to elevated or lofty, in reference to their stature while Spissa means dense, in reference to the closely-spaced/crowded gills.

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