Genus Amanita, Section Validae, Subsection Mappae
Amanita aestivalis, A. brunnescens, A. citrina, A. porphyria, A. solaniolens
They also have a skirt-like ring, and a smell like potatoes. Usually you can smell this best by sniffing the gills, or scratching and sniffing the bulb.
There are two different taxa that are tinged with purple or lilac. These are all eastern species, inhabitants of the great Appalachian forest remnant, except for Amanita porphyria, which is found all over.
Amanita aestivalisAs with Amanita rubescens, there is an all-white version of brunnescens that has a separate species name of its own: Amanita aestivalis. It also turns brown the way that brunnescens does, but more slowly. It is indeed completely white, without the streaking with darker colors of classic brunnescens.
Perhaps more importantly, you would tell it from a destroying angel by the brown bruising (visible on the bulb of some of these) and the cleft bulb at the base of the stem.
Amanita brunnescensThere is another cluster of species concepts around Amanita brunnescens. This can be a very large mushroom – the first one I found was about a foot tall and nine inches across. Most are about half that size. The bulb is of the same texture and hardness as the stem, and is split vertically around the edges.
Classic brunnescens has either a deep brown cap, or a very pale yellow cap. It can shade very quickly between the two on the same mushroom, and often the pale form has an area of the dark brown or a dark reddish brown in the center, or there are streaks of the darker colors. You can see a variety of color forms in the single group of them in these pictures.
“Brunnescens” means “turning brown”; the gills will indeed bruise brown, and the lower stem and bulb will often turn orange-brown in age or when bruised. Here we see a collection where some of the stems have turned brown from being handled.
Amanita citrinaOne of the iconic Validae is Amanita citrina, an Amanita with a soft, cottony bulb – the only Amanita to have one. Usually the cap is just three or four inches across. The cap is a pale yellow or yellowish green, and the ring is usually also yellow.
Sometimes the cap is tinged with lilac, or the universal veil flakes on it are lilac – in fact, the a color combination where the purple-tinged universal veil flakes are darker than the cap itself are a distinctive feature for this species – as shown in both the images on this tab.
There are actually quite a few color variations for “citrina.” Some of them even turn lilac when cut. The stem may also bruise brown if it doesn’t bruise lilac. Because of these variable reactions, there has been longstanding speculation that we might have more than one species of “citrina”. For the moment, the DNA is saying that we have at least three distinct species in the east, but they’re not necessarily coordinated with the lilac tinges – rather, the lilac may be a reaction to cold weather. But for the moment, the only official name available for them is A. citrina.
Amanita porphyriaAmanita porphyria is about three inches across or so, and has a cap that is a dark grayish purple – or a dark brownish purple or dark reddish brown. Basically, if you have a smallish Amanita with a cleft bulb and some dark color that’s anything like this, you have A. porphyria.
Its ring also tends to turn gray, and universal veil flakes on the cap or bulb also tend to be gray or purplish gray.
It often has purplish-gray zig-zag bands (“strangulated zones”) on the stem.
This is the one mushroom in the group that is found throughout North America. Well, they’re probably not all the same species, but mushrooms corresponding to this species concept are certainly found all over the continent. Some graduate student will probably sort them all out in about 40 years.
Amanita solaniolensA. solaniolens is an downright small mushroom, only about 2 inches across. It is also a lot more slender and gracile than the other Amanitas in this grouop. It usually has a dark brown center shading all the way to light yellowish brown at the edge.
The cap often has a greenish tinge, giving it a sort of olive/camo kind of color scheme.
The veils are creamy to pale yellow, and survive as one or two patches on the cap, a raised edge of the cleft basal bulb, and the weak ring, which often collapses against the stalk.