Death cap

Amanita phalloides Amanita phalloides Amanita phalloides

Amanita phalloides


  • Department: Basidiomycota (Basidiomycetes)
  • Subdivision: Agaricomycotina (Agaricomycetes)
  • Class: Agaricomycetes (Agaricomycetes)
  • Subclass: Agaricomycetidae (Agaricomycetes)
  • Order: Agaricales (Agaric or Lamellar)
  • Family: Amanitaceae (Amanitaceae)
  • Genus: Amanita (Amanita)
  • Species: Amanita phalloides (Pale toadstool)


  • Amanita muscaria
  • Amanita white

Amanita phalloides

In English-speaking countries, Pale toadstool received the popular name 'death cap' – 'death cap', 'death cap'. The defining characteristics for this species include:

  • a sac-like white volva around the base of the leg
  • ring
  • white plates
  • white imprint of spore powder
  • no grooves on the cap

The cap of the Toadstool is usually in shades of green or brownish-brownish colors, although color is not the most reliable criterion for identifying this fungus, as it is quite variable. Sometimes white spots remain on the cap, the remains of a common bedspread.


Hat: 4-16 cm in diameter, almost round or oval at first. With growth it becomes convex, then wide-convex, flat-convex, to flat in very old mushrooms. The skin of the cap is smooth, bald, sticky in wet weather and shiny in dry weather. The color ranges from dull green to olive, yellowish to brownish (the rare white 'albino' forms usually grow with the colored cap forms). In green- and olive-colored specimens there are clearly visible dark radial fibers, in light-colored pale toadstools these fibers are less pronounced, in brownish-colored ones it is difficult to see them. Young caps may have white patches, 'warts', remnants of the blanket in which the embryo of the fungus develops, the same as in the well-known red fly agaric. But in the pale toadstool, these 'warts' usually disappear with age: they fall off or are washed away by rains.

Amanita phalloides

Plates: loose or nearly free. White (sometimes with a slight greenish tint). Frequent, wide.

Even in very old toadstool, the plates remain white, this important feature helps to instantly distinguish the pale toadstool from the champignon.

Leg: 5-18 cm high and 1-2.5 cm thick. Cylindrical, central. More or less flat, often tapering towards the top and widening to a thickened base. Bald or thinly pubescent. White or with shades of the color of the cap, can be covered with a beautiful moire pattern.

Ring: white, large, strong, slightly drooping, similar to a ballerina's skirt. The ring usually lasts a long time on the stem, but sometimes it is lost.

Volvo: bag-shaped, white, cupped, loose, embraces the thickened base of the leg. Often the base of the leg and the volva are quite low, at ground level, and can be completely hidden by leaves.

Amanita phalloides

Flesh: white throughout, does not change color on break, cut and bumps. Smell: young mushrooms have a weak mushroom smell, pleasant. The old ones are described as unpleasant, sweetish. Taste: According to the literature, the taste of cooked pale toadstool is extraordinarily beautiful. The raw mushroom flavor is described as 'soft, mushroom'. Due to the extreme toxicity of the pale toadstool, there are not many who want to try the mushroom, as you understand. And we strongly recommend refraining from such tastings.

Spore powder: White. Spores 7-12 x 6-9 microns, smooth, flowing, ellipsoid, amyloid. Basidia 4 spore, without clamps.


The pale grebe appears to form mycorrhiza with deciduous trees. Indicated, first of all, oak, linden, birch, less often – maple, hazel. Grows in deciduous and deciduous, mixed with deciduous forests. Prefers bright places, small glades. The Modern Encyclopedic Dictionary, the Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary and the Encyclopedia of the mushroom picker indicate purely coniferous forests as a place of growth.

Season and distribution

Early summer to mid-autumn, June to October. Distributed in central Russia and other countries with a continental climate: Belarus, Ukraine, found in European countries. The North American Amanita phalloides is the same classic European Amanita phalloides, it was introduced to the North American continent in California and in the New Jersey region and is now actively expanding its range in the West Coast and the Mid Atlantic.


The mushroom is deadly poisonous. Even the smallest dose can be fatal. There is still no reliable data on what dose is considered 'already lethal'. There are different versions. So, some sources indicate that 1 g of raw mushroom per 1 kg of live weight is enough for fatal poisoning. The author of this note believes that these data are too optimistic. The fact is that Pale Toadstool contains not one, but several toxins. Toxins isolated from the pulp of the mushroom belong to polypeptides. Three groups of toxins have been identified: amatoxins (amanitin α, β, γ), phalloidins and phallolysins.

The toxins contained in the Pale Toadstool are not destroyed by cooking. They cannot be neutralized by cooking, pickling, drying or freezing.

Amatoxins are responsible for organ damage. A lethal dose of amatoxin 0.1–0.3 mg / kg body weight; the consumption of one mushroom can be fatal (40 g of mushrooms contains 5–15 mg of amanitinα). Phallotoxins are essentially alkaloids, they are found only in the leg of the pale toadstool and the stinking fly agaric. These toxins cause functional and structural disintegration of the gastric and intestinal mucosa within 6–8 hours, which significantly accelerates the absorption of amatoxins.

The insidiousness of the Pale Toadstool is that the symptoms of poisoning do not appear immediately, but after 6-12, and sometimes even 30-40 hours after eating the mushroom, when the poisons have already dealt a terrible blow to the liver, kidneys and all internal organs.

The first symptoms of Pale toadstool poisoning appear when the poison enters the brain:

  • nausea
  • indomitable vomiting
  • sudden sharp abdominal pain
  • weakness
  • convulsions
  • headache
  • visual impairment
  • diarrhea is later added, often with blood

At the very first symptoms, you must immediately call an ambulance.

Similar species

A pale grebe is a mushroom that is easily identifiable enough for an attentive mushroom picker. But there are a number of points at which fatal errors can occur:

  • the mushrooms are too young, only 'hatched' from the egg, the leg is short, the ring is completely invisible: in this case, the pale toadstool can be mistaken for some types of floats
  • the mushrooms are too old, the ring has fallen off, in this case the pale toadstool can also be mistaken for some types of floats
  • the mushrooms are too old, the ring has fallen off, and the volva is hidden in the foliage, in this case, the pale toadstool can be mistaken for some types of russula or ryadovki
  • mushrooms grow interspersed with an edible species known to the mushroom picker, the same floats, russula or champignons, in this case, in the heat of collection, you can lose your guard
  • mushrooms are cut with a knife too high, under the very cap


Very simple tips:

  • check every mushroom potentially similar to pale toadstool for all the telltale signs
  • never pick up mushroom caps cut by someone and discarded with white plates
  • when mass harvesting green russula, light floats and young champignons, carefully check each mushroom
  • if you pick up a 'suspicious' mushroom and suspect a pale toadstool in it, wash your hands thoroughly right in the forest

Most frequent questions and answers to them

If Pale toadstool grows very close to other edible mushrooms, is it possible to collect and eat these mushrooms? Everyone decides this question for himself. I wouldn't take such a mushroom.

Amanita phalloides

Is it true that not only the pulp is poisonous in the Pale Toadstool, but also the spores? Yes it's true. It is believed that both spores and mycelium are poisonous. Thus, if you have specimens of pale toadstool in your basket along with other mushrooms, think: is it worth trying to wash the mushrooms? Maybe it's safer to just throw them away?

Video about the mushroom Pale toadstool:

Used literature: Illustrated encyclopedic dictionary. – M .: Autopan. VI Borodulin et al. 1998 Modern encyclopedia. 2000. Encyclopedia of the mushroom picker. – M: Capital-Print. N.E. Gladyshev. 2004. Encyclopedia of Russian Nature. – M .: ABF. L.V. Garibova, I.I. Sidorov. 1999.

In the article and in the gallery of the article, photos from the questions in recognition are used.

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Hunting, Fishing and Mushrooms: a magazine for hunters and fishers.
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