Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Species name: Amanita caesarea
Common name: Caesar's amanita, Caesar's mushroom
I figured it was about time for another mushroom! So here it is :)
Technically this species name is native to southern Europe and northern Africa, and the species name for this mushroom is likely Amanita jacksonii. To my knowledge, there's still some debate of whether these are actually the same or different species. Regardless of whether it's the North American species or the European species, it is still recognizable by the same characteristics: an orange stem, orange ring around the stem under the cap, orange cap with a darker brownish-orange middle, clear striations (stripes) on the top of the mushroom cap, light yellow/orange gills, and a white egg (volva) around the bottom of the stem.
Unlike all the rest of the species in this genus, this species is actually a highly prized edible mushroom. It can often be found in markets in Europe for sale at obscene prices since it is also incredibly rare to find (in Europe and in North America). It is actually one of the few fungi that is on a Red List or Endangered Species list around the world; the Ukraine has it listed as a nationally endangered species and it is against the law to pick it. Because of the real danger of accidentally killing yourself by eating the wrong Amanita, it is strongly suggested that you admire any mushroom with a ring and a volva from afar. Yes, they're pretty. Yes, a lot of them look like they'd be tasty. But a lot of them will give you chronic and/or deadly liver and kidney failure. Like with plants, you should only ever consume wild mushrooms if you are absolutely sure that you have identified it correctly (many species of fungi require the use of a microscope to ensure correct identification, even by experts!).