Powdery Amanitas: Subsection Farinosae

A. crenulata, A. farinosa, A. parcivolvata, A. roseitincta, A. wellsii

 

The powdery top of Amanita crenulata Photo by Eric Smith

The top of Amanita crenulata. The powdery universal veil material has been stretched and spread out by the cap’s expansion to where it looks like a transparent frosting on the cap.
hoto by Eric Smith

In some Amanitas the universal veil (and in many of these species the partial veil, too) is so powdery that it doesn’t survive into the mushroom’s adulthood except as powdery smears on the cap and the small round knob at the base of the stem. These smears may thin out to the point where they’re translucent and appear like a light frosting on the cap surface.

In other cases, the universal veil material may hang together in loose crumbly sheets.

Amanita roseitincta, showing universal veil material hanging off the mushroom in sheets (partial veil is just below the cap).  Photo by David Lewis

Amanita roseitincta, showing universal veil material hanging off the mushroom in sheets (partial veil is just below the cap). Brownish-pink veil material is also smeared on the stem.
Photo by David Lewis

Group of Amanita crenulata, showing cap color, basal bulb, and smears of universal veil material on bulb. Photo by Eric Smith

Group of Amanita crenulata, showing cap color, basal bulb, and smears of universal veil material on bulb. You can also see the ring in the process of disintegrating and disappearing.
hoto by Eric Smith

The most common and well-understood of the powdery Amanitas is Amanita crenulata, which occurs throughout the northeast with hemlock. It’s a fairly small mushroom, usually about 3” across. The cap is a yellowish or grayish tan (sometimes a slightly darker yellowish brown), with smears of universal veil material that are similarly colored, but lighter. It starts off with a ring, but this often gets torn apart and left as tiny shreds on the stem or the edge of the cap.

Young Amanita crenulata

Young Amanita crenulata. The universal material on the cap is still piled up into sticky mounds. As it ages and the cap expands, these will be flattened and drawn out into a powdery frosting, as in the photo in the Overview tab.

Rod Tulloss has described the universal veil material as champagne-colored, which I suppose could make the cap the color of the champagne bottle’s label (or vice versa, depending on which kind of champagne you like).

Another group of crenulata. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is more champagne-colored - the cap or the flakes. Photo by Eric Smith

Another group of crenulata. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is more champagne-colored – the cap or the flakes.
hoto by Eric Smith

Mature Amanita farinosa, striate to the point of splitting, with most of its powder gone.

Mature Amanita farinosa, striate to the point of splitting, with most of its powder gone.
Photo by Leon Shernoff

Amanita farinosa is probably the mushroom least likely to be recognized as an Amanita. From the height of a person standing, it looks most like a slender gray Russula, up to about 2” across.


Universal veil powder on the bulb of A. farinosa Photo by Patrick Harvey

Universal veil powder on the bulb of A. farinosa
Photo by Patrick Harvey

It only betrays its true nature if it still retains some of the scant powdery remnants on the cap (easily washed off by the rain!) or on the surface of the small knob at the base of the stalk.


A. farinosa, showing slender, ringless stem and powder on cap

A. farinosa, showing slender, ringless stem and powder on cap.
Photo by Patrick Harvey

It is by far the least colorful of the powdery Amanitas; its gray may be a little yellowish or brownish, but that’s about it. It has no ring nor any indication of one. It gets striate very quickly and gets even more striate as it ages.


West-coast

West-coast Amanita farinosa, showing more robust stature and more persistent powder

There is also a west coast version of A. farinosa; it is “two to three times the size of the true A. farinosa of eastern North America and Central America”, often more robust in stature, less striate and more persistently powdery. It’s clear that this is a different mushroom from the original, eastern A. farinosa, but it doesn’t have a name of its own yet. So it is called A. farinosa sensu Thiers, or A. farinosa sensu auct. Pacific Northwest states.


Amanita farinosa bulb with just an upper fringe of powder remaining

Amanita farinosa bulb with just an upper fringe of powder remaining
Photo by Leon Shernoff

In any case, the mushroom can be very difficult to identify in age, when most of the powder is gone and it’s easy not to realize that it’s an Amanita. Here, there is just a gray fringe of powder along the upper edge of the bulb.
Amanita parcivolvata, showing cap color, basal bulb, and lack of ring. Photo by Steve Russell

Amanita parcivolvata, showing cap color, basal bulb, and lack of ring
Photo by Stephen Russell

Amanita parcivolvata is very common in southeastern North America, although it occurs in the coastal/Appalachian northeast as far north as New Jersey. It looks a lot like muscaria, but it has no ring, and doesn’t generally get much bigger than the ones shown here. Also, the wheels of tissue at the base of the stalk don’t have the angular cogwheel forms of muscaria and are a lot softer. Most of the Amanitas in Section Amanita are striate; but parcivolvata gets striate very young, and its striations remain a prominent feature of the cap. Instead of leaving a ring, the partial veil of Amanita parcivolvata crumbles into yellow powder that coats the stem.

Amanita parcivolvata

Amanita parcivolvata, showing soft basal rings and yellow powder on stem
Photo by David Lewis

Amanita parcivolvata, fading in age. The universal Photo by Debbie Viess

The universal veil chunks on this Amanita parcivolvata are still yellowish, even though the cap is fading.
Photo by Debbie Viess

Although the universal veil leaves chunky fragments on the cap, these too are very crumbly. They are also yellow, like the partial veil, but fade soon in the sun. And the cap itself, like almost all of our red-capped Amanitas, fades to orange and then yellow, starting at the edges and working its way inward.

Our largest powdery Amanita is found on the Gulf Coast, and it is pink: a pale pink for the flesh, covered with a deeper, browner pink layer that is powdery but nonetheless hangs together in sheets. This is Amanita roseitincta.

Amanita roseitincta

Amanita roseitincta. Here you can see the powdery layer on the cap breaking up to expose the paler pink flesh below
Photo by David Lewis

Here is that mushroom with some younger mushrooms. This shows the rounded basal bulb, the appearance of the powdery layer at different stages of development, and also how this material tends to hang off the mushroom in sheets.

Amanita roseitincta group

Amanita roseitincta group
Photo by David Lewis

This is a very distinctive mushroom, and you’d think it’s impossible to confuse with anything else, but actually section Lepidella includes Amanita daucipes, which also has a universal veil covering that is brownish pink and powdery, and hangs off in sheets. It is even southeastern in distribution, too!
These can be distinguished in a number of ways. Daucipes bruises a darker brownish pink, whereas A. roseitincta doesn’t change color upon bruising. And the powdery covering of Amanita daucipes is coarser. Its bulb is often darker and more massive, and can have a flatter top. But the definitive difference is that A. daucipes is in the other subgenus and so has amyloid spores, whereas A. roseitincta does not.

Another smallish northeastern species is Amanita wellsii. When fresh, it has a bright salmon/apricot cap with yellow universal veil powder.

Young Amanita wellsii, with its bright colors still intact.

Young Amanita wellsii, with its bright colors still intact.
Photo by Erlon Bailey

Both of these colors fade in sunlight and with drying, until it is more the colors of those orange-cream popsicles.

Mature Amanita wellsii, with the colors faded to its "creamsicle" phase.

Mature Amanita wellsii, with the colors faded to its “creamsicle” phase.
Photo by Debbie Viess

The partial veil mostly remains as an irregular cottony fringe on the cap, and sometimes as a cottony line around the stalk.

Amanita wellsii, showing wisps of partial veil material on the edge of the cap. Photo by Debbie Viess

Amanita wellsii, showing wisps of partial veil material on the edge of the cap.
Photo by Debbie Viess

It has been reported with a variety of plant partners, including blueberry.