Large mushrooms, solitary or in small groups on soil close to their ectomycorrhizal host trees. Cap typically with large scaly or powdery patches, white, yellowish, greyish, dark brown, or red (the exotic A. muscaria) in colour. Gills free, white, covered with veil when immature, the veil sometimes forming a persistent ring around the stalk in mature fruiting bodies. Stalk swollen towards the base, the base itself typically surrounded by a seperate, sac-like ‘volva’ (the volva is the remains of a seperate layer of tissue which surrounds the entire fruiting body when it is very young - the ‘universal veil’), although the prominance of the volva varies between species. Spore print white.
Amanita species are ectomycorrhizal, their mushrooms are always found close to their host trees. The indigenous species are confined to either Nothofagus forests or to stands of tea-tree, where they are often found in large numbers in the autumn. There are 10 indigenous species (all endemic), and two common exotic species, A. muscaria and A. phalloides (see images and notes below).
Volvariella another soil-inhabiting fungus with a volva, is best distinguished from Amanita by its pink spore print. Leucoagaricus has a similar stature to Amanita, has white spores and free gills, but never has scales on the cap and lacks a volva. It is found in grassy areas, rather than forests. Lepiota species have scaly caps, a ring on the stalk, white spores and free gills, but are much smaller in stature than Amanita, and again lack a volva. Macrolepiota and Chlorophyllum have a well developed ring, but lack a volva Chlorophyllum has a greenish spore print.


NZFungi Entry

Amanita phalloides

Death cap. An exotic species found under oaks in Auckland and Hamilton. The cap is often more or less smooth, or with few scales. This is an extremely poisonous mushroom, and there have been several near-deaths in New Zealand after it apparently had been

Amanita muscaria

Fly agaric. An exotic species common throughout the country under a wide range of introduced ectomycorrhizal trees, but is particularly common under pines and silver birch. This is one of the few introduced fungi which has become naturalised in native fo

Amanita pekeoides

A common native species with a large, loose volva (the species was named after the Maori word peke, meaning sack or bag) and no ring on the stalk. The edge of the cap is characteristically strongly striate. White forms of this species are found rarely.