Genus Amanita, Section Validae, Subsection Mappae

Amanita aestivalis, A. brunnescens, A. citrina, A. porphyria, A. solaniolens

Amanita porphyria Photo by Pam Kaminski

Amanita porphyria
Photo by Pam Kaminski

The cleft bulb of Amanita aestivalis Photo by Eric Smith

The cleft bulb of Amanita aestivalis
Photo by Eric Smith

The members of the citrina/brunnescens group have a basal bulb that is either cleft or cottony. By “cleft”, I mean split vertically at various points around the sides of the bulb.
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 aestivalis

Amanita aestivalis: the all-white Amanita with a cleft bulb Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita aestivalis: the all-white Amanita with a cleft bulb
Photo by Eric Smith

As 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 brunnescens

Amanita brunnescens Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita brunnescens
Photo by Eric Smith

There 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.
Amanita brunnescens group, with stained (brown) stems Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita brunnescens group, with stained (brown) stems
Photo by Eric Smith

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 citrina

Amanita citrina  Illustration from Eugen Gramberg's Pilze userer Heimat (1936)

Amanita citrina

Illustration from Eugen Gramberg’s Pilze userer Heimat (1936)

One 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.
Amanita citrina group Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita citrina group
Photo by Eric Smith

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 porphyria

Amanita porphyria, showing purplish-brown cap with purplish-gray universal veil material Photo by Darvin DeShazer

Amanita porphyria, showing purplish-brown cap with purplish-gray universal veil material
Photo by Darvin DeShazer

Amanita 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.
Amanita porphyria, showing gray ring Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita porphyria, showing gray ring
Photo by Eric Smith

Its ring also tends to turn gray, and universal veil flakes on the cap or bulb also tend to be gray or purplish gray.
Amanita porphyria Photo by Pam Kaminski

Amanita porphyria
Photo by Pam Kaminski

It often has purplish-gray zig-zag bands (“strangulated zones”) on the stem.
Amanita porphyria  can be all sorts of shades or reddish/purplish brown on top, with different shades of purplish gray universal veil material Photo by Debbie Viess

Amanita porphyria can be all sorts of shades or reddish/purplish brown on top, with different shades of purplish gray universal veil material
Photo by Debbie Viess

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 porphyria - did I mention that this mushroom can be all sorts of shades or reddish/purplish brown on top, with different shades of purplish gray universal veil material? Photo by Darvin Deshazer

Amanita porphyria – did I mention that this mushroom can be all sorts of shades or reddish/purplish brown on top, with different shades of purplish gray universal veil material?
Photo by Darvin Deshazer

Amanita solaniolens

Amanita solaniolens is the most gracile mushroom of this group. Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita solaniolens is the most gracile mushroom of this group.
Photo by Eric Smith

A. 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.


Amanita solaniolens, the greener color form Photo by Eric Smith

Amanita solaniolens, the greener color form
Photo by Eric Smith

The cap often has a greenish tinge, giving it a sort of olive/camo kind of color scheme.


A slender brown A. solaniolens

A slender brown A. solaniolens

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.