Grisette (Amanita Vaginata) Identification

Grisette / Summer / Autumn / Edible

Scientific Name

Amanita Vaginata


Common Names

Grisette, Ringless Amanita


Family

Amanitaceae


Habitat

They are mycorrhizal with quite a few different trees including, oak, birch, chestnut, alder, spruce and pine. They can also sometimes be found in unkempt lawns and on disturbed ground.


Description 

An edible member of the Amanita family, they can be confused with toxic species so care needs to be taken.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

The cap is very variable in from light tan to a dark grey/brown colour depending on age and moisture levels. When young they are egg-shaped flattening as they mature, they tend to develop a darker, central umbo as they age. Along the margin, there are deep striations.

GLJIVARSKO DRUSTVO NIS from Serbia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

They are fairly long up to 15cm and are similar in colour to the cap. They do occasionally have a faint zig-zag or snakeskin pattern of brown scales. At the base, there is a white sack-like volva structure. They also lack a ring which is present in most Amanitas.

Stu’s Images, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

The gills are white to off yellow, free or slightly adnexed and are crowded.

Free Gills
Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell:

No real 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 they’re not very often collected.


Harvesting   

Not for the novice. Only experienced or stupid foragers collect ring-less Amanitas.

Telling the Grisettes apart from one another can sometimes be difficult, they are all edible when cooked so are good to learn. In general, they differ from other Amanitas in a number of ways; they tend to be medium to large mushrooms with distinct caps, gills and stems. The caps are generally smooth and free from any volval remains and they have striations along the edge. Their gills are white to off white, free and crowded. Their stems lack a ring but may have a snakeskin pattern, the stems terminate in a sack-like volva structure.

Pollice, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Known hazards

They must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.


Potential lookalikes

Other Amanitas, some of which are deadly poisonous.

Other ring-less Amanita’s that look similar are the:

The Tawny Grisette (Amanita Fulva) but this has a darker more brownish coloured cap and lacks the zig-zag pattern on the stem.

The Snakeskin Grisette (Amanita Ceciliae) is also similar in appearance and has a snake-skin, zig-zag pattern of scales of the stem.

The Grisette (Amanita Vaginata) looks very similar but tends to be darker in colour.

All three of these are edible when cooked.


Extra Notes

The common name Grisette apparently comes from the French gris meaning grey and was also applied to a course, woollen fabric worn by working-class women. The Latin name Vaginata derives from Vaginatus, meaning ‘protected by a sheath in reference to the volva structure they grow from.

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