Death Cap

Poisonous Poisonous
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

The most poisonous mushroom in the UK along with the Destroying Angel.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Death Cap
Scientific Name Amanita Phalloides
Season Start Jul
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 15
Average Cap width (CM) 12
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Cap

Convex at first looking a little like a Puff Ball then opening and flattening. Olive/green sometimes with a flush of tan or yellow. Slimy when wet but still looking shiny when dry.

Gills

Gills white/cream, free of the stem. Crowded.

Stem

White with a  bulbous base and surrounded by a thin veil (volva) which is sack-like at ground height, tapering slightly towards the cap. The top of the volva will often be found attached to the stem more than halfway up, looking like a skirt.

Skirt

Has obvious striations under the skirt sometimes visible on top.

Volva

A very obvious deep volva.

Flesh

White.

Habitat

Most mixed woodland, particularly with oak and other deciduous trees.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid to subglobose. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

DO NOT try any part of this mushroom.

Frequency

Uncommon but can become more frequent some years when the conditions are right.

Other Facts

Although causing the most fatalities this deadly fungus has no known antidote. The symptoms start several hours after ingestion with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains and can last for a few days; this is followed by what seems to be a full recovery for a few days but ending in death from kidney and liver failure. The main poison, alpha amanatin, kills liver cells and passes through the kidneys to be recirculated and cause more damage.

COMMENTS

13 comments for Death Cap

  1. Alan Harris says:

    Is there a litmus type paper that will identify the moisture of poisonous mushrooms?

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      Unfortunately not 🙁

  2. Sandesh D'Souza says:

    OMG. This is terrifying and not worth picking/eating/putting any effort in eating any mushrooms. I mean the chemical has no antidote and it sneakily circulates via kidneys to get reabsorbed and keep causing more and more damage? This is the stuff of horrors!

    1. Martin Arcimovic says:

      You can learn to identify mushrooms species by species. By putting in hours and effort, you will get to know the most dangerous poisonous ones and the the most interesting (fleshy, delicious) mushrooms, so foraging will be safe for you.

  3. Brooke Pierozynski says:

    I know it says uncommon, however this year seems to be the year of them for us. My puppy is in hospital right now due to licking one of these. I have now gone dug up approximately 30 in our woods in fear our other dog will also find one. They are quite a beautiful mushroom at all stages of growth but this is utterly terrifying how just licking one has made him so unwell. They have been giving him supportive measures such as hydration and milk thistle extract and all we can do is wait and see.

    1. lukas says:

      any updates on the pup?

      1. Brooke Pierozynski says:

        I can report he is well and thriving! We are now contemplating moving as it’s so hard to know when/if it will be a year for them to come up.

        1. PJ says:

          I’m so glad he’s ok 🙂

          1. Brooke Pierozynski says:

            Thank you !!

            I have been on the lookout for them as season can start in July and have just dug up 27 in a spot different to last year !

  4. Bella says:

    Are there any cures for the mushroom?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Aggressive re-hydration as soon as possible can help on the way to hospital, where if caught early enough, the poisoning can be treated with extracts of Milk Thistle which seems to help. In a lot of cases the liver and kidneys may have suffered permanent damage and will need replacing with a transplant.

  5. Martin Arcimovic says:

    The therapy is quite complex as there is more than one toxin and the symptoms appear when damage is already being done. Most survivors need a liver (and sometimes kidney) transplant.

  6. Andy Chaisty says:

    They are not a problem for me as they have never ever been recorded or seen in my part of the U.K. (Manchester) all other Aminata species are abundant but you would never see a death cap here obviously the conditions are not right for them to grow here

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