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Amanita

Field characters

Pileus: convex to planar, often with scales (or warts) - remnants of the universal veil.
Annulus: present
Stipe: cleanly separates from pileus, usually with volva at the base
Stature: Amanitoid (free gills, with annulus and volva) Vaginatoid if the annulus has disappeared
Ecology: Almost all obligatory ectomycorrhizal

Micro characters

Basidiospores: smooth, white amyloid or inamyloid. Singer, 1986 notes that "Margin sulcate and then spores amyloid, or margin smooth or almost so, and the spores inamyloid. Typically >7.5 micrometers long. No germ pore.
Hyphae: inamyloid, usually without clamp connections.
Cystidia: none
Spore Print: white to cream, occasionally greenish or pinkish
Lamellae: Usually white, free or slightly adnexed alternating with lamellulae
Lamellar Trama: divergent (bilateral)

Notes

An easy and important genus to recognize. In our area all species I have seen have a well-developed volva and annulus. This combined with the white, free (or free-ish) gills make it an Amanita. Arora, 1986 notes that the character "free gills" is often stressed in field guides. This is not always the case and he de-emphasizes the importance of that character.

Although it has been said in every book ever written on this subject, I must re-state that some species are deadly poisonous (not the get sick and vomit type of sick, the die over a period of weeks kind of sick). A few field guides mention that certain species are edible. That might be true, but it is not worth experimenting. The one Amanita species I did eat (A. caesaria) was cooked in butter and garlic, and tasted like butter and garlic. So, just eat the butter and garlic.

Over 100 species are thought to be present in the northeast, and it is not unusual to collect a specimen that cannot be identified. Clearly much work needs to be done on the taxonomy of this group. I suggest a visit to the Fungi of Poland website in the Links section of this document for references to the European work on this genus.