Saturday, July 28, 2012

American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita jacksonii) Revisited

July 21st, 2012. We set out to look for more routes with gravel roads - preferably not mowed - that would be good places to look for wildflowers. We found ourselves in Greene County, Georgia – not far east of the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest. In fact, if we continued on the forest road we use to get to the Scull Shoals EF, we would reach this area. We just don’t go this way often – that may have to change.

It’s probably also important to note that, after months without any rain and temperatures in the 90s F, we’d had about five very welcome inches of rain. I hadn’t thought much about it, but these are ideal conditions for mushrooms to appear.

I posted this photo, taken in Wilkes County, Georgia, in July last year. This was a particularly attractive group of these mushrooms.

W stopped to consult the gazateer and I saw a couple of American caesars in the woods but they were pale orange; not as pretty as the deeper red-capped ones. So I kept my eyes open and finally spotted some nice specimens.

 The group we spotted on July 21st were scattered over a larger area and…

partially obscured by pine needles.

I cleared away pine needles from one that was out in the open and, finally, found what I’d been looking for – the cup or volva that is diagnostic for Amanita (and Volvariella) species. I was taught that this was a method for recognizing amanitas but, search as I have, I have never seen a volva still attached to one. This day was my lucky day…One, and only one of the amanitas in this group had a volva!

A closer view of the volva on this mushroom. It was partially filled with water from recent rains.

All mushrooms have the a partial veil that ‘connects’ the cap to the stem at the annulus or ring; sometimes remnants of this veil are still attached to the stem after the mushroom has opened. Amanitas have another veil, the universal veil, that encloses the entire mushroom as it emerges from the ground. As the mushroom develops, the veil breaks and remains attached – the volva - to the base of the mushroom.

Daniel Spurgeon at ‘Nature at Close Range’ has a wonderful photograph of this mushroom at an earlier stage where the volva is much more evident. 

Amanita jacksonii is cutest at this stage but it wouldn’t do justice to the species not to photograph a fully opened mushroom that we found further along this same road.

Postscript. I ride to work in a vanpool. A few days after spotting these mushrooms, I spotted more in the front lawn of a house along our route. There were two groups in the early stages of opening. The spores had obviously washed down the slope and the mushrooms were arranged in two rows down the slope. I’m going to have to remember to take my camera around this time next year and try to get photographs of these.
Click on the image to view a larger image

Identification resources: 
- Rodham E. Tulloss, Amanita jacksonii

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