This section is from the book "Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc.", by George Francis Atkinson. Also available from Amazon: Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc..
In the button stage the plant is ovate and the white color of the volva, which at this time entirely surrounds the plants, presents an appearance not unlike that of an egg. The volva splits open at the apex as the stem elongates. The veil is often connected by loose threads with the outer portion of the stem and as the pileus expands this is torn away, leaving coarse tloccose scales on the stem. Some of the different stages in the opening of the plant are shown in Fig. 72. This illustration is taken from a photograph of plants (No. 3726, C.
Plate 18, Figure 72
Plate 19. Fig. 1. - Amanita rubescens Fig. 2. - A. Caesaria. Copyright 1900.
U. herbarium) collected at Blowing Rock, N. C, September, 1899. The plant is said to be one of the best esculents, and has been prized as an article of food from ancient times. Great caution should be used in distinguishing it from the fly agaric and from other ama-nitas.
Amanita rubescens Fr. Edible, but use great caution. - The reddish amanita, Amanita rubescens, is so called because of the sordid reddish color diffused over the entire plant, and especially because bruised portions quickly change to a reddish color. The plant is often quite large, from 12-20 cm. high, the cap 8-12 cm. broad and the stem 8-12 mm. in thickness, but it is sometimes much smaller. It occurs during the latter part of the summer and in early autumn, in woods and open places.
The pileus is oval to convex, and becoming expanded when old. It is smooth or faintly striate on the margin, and covered with numerous scattered, thin, tloccose, grayish scales, forming remnants of the larger part of the volva or outer veil. The color of the cap varies correspondingly, but is always tinged more or less distinctly with pink, red, or brownish red hues. The gills are white or whitish and free from the stem. The stem is nearly cylindrical, tapering some above, and with a prominent bulb which often tapers abruptly below. In addition to the suffused dull reddish color the stem is often stained with red, especially where handled or touched by some object. There are very few evidences of the volva on the stem since the volva is so floccose and torn into loose fragments, most of which remain on the surface of the cap. Sometimes a few of these loose fragments are seen on the upper portion of the bulb, but they are easily removed by handling or by rains. The annulus is membranous, broad, and fragile-.
Amanita rubescens. Plant partly expanded. Dull reddish brown, stains reddish where bruised; for other details see text (natural size). Copyright.
Since the plant has become well known it is regarded as excellent and wholesome for food and pleasant to the taste. In case of the larger specimens there should be no difficulty in distinguishing it from others by those who care to compare the descriptions closely with the fresh specimens. But as in all cases beginners should use extreme caution in eating plants they have not become thoroughly familiar with. Small specimens of this species sometimes show but little of the reddish color, and are therefore difficult to determine.
Figures 73 and 74 are from plants (No. 3727 C. U. herbarium) collected at Blowing Rock, N. C, during September, 1899.
Amanita solitaria Bull. Edible, but use caution. - The solitary amanita, like many other plants, is not always true to its name. While it often occurs solitary, it does occur sometimes in groups. It is one of the largest of the amanitas. Its large size, together with its chalky white or grayish white color, and ragged or shaggy appearance, makes it a striking object in the woods, or along roadsides in woods where it grows. Frequently parts of the cap, the entire stem and the gills are covered with a white, crumbly, floccose substance of a mealy consistency which often sticks to the hands or other objects. The plant ranges from 15-20 cm. or more high, the cap from 8-15 cm. broad, and the stems are 1-2 cm. or more in thickness.
In form the pileus ranges from nearly globose in the button stage, to hemispherical, convex and expanded, when quite old the margin becoming more or less elevated. It is covered either with flaky or floccose portions of the volva, or with more or less distinct conic white scales, especially toward the center. The conic scales are easily rubbed off in handling or are easily washed off by rains. Many of them are loosened and fall because of the tension produced by the expanding pileus on the surface of which they rest. These scales vary in size from quite small ones, appearing like granules, to those fewer in number and larger, 3 mm. high and nearly as broad at the base. In other cases the scales are harder and stouter and dark colored. These forms will be discussed after the description of the other parts of the plant.
Plate 20, Figure 74
Amanita albescens. Under and side view. Dull reddish brown, stains reddish where bruised (3/4) natural size). Copyright.
Plate 21, Figure 75
Amanita solitaria. Entirely white, or cap and scales sordid buff, dull brown, or grayish in some plants. For details see text (1/2 natural size). Copyright.
The gills are free, or are only attached by the upper inner angle; the edges are often floccose where they are torn from the slight union with the upper surface of the veil. The stem is cylindrical, solid or stuffed when old, enlarged usually below into a prominent bulb which then tapers into a more or less elongated root-like process, sometimes extending 5-10 cm. in the ground below the bulb. In rare cases the bulb is not present, but the cylindrical stem extends for a considerable distance into the ground. The veil is a very interesting part of the plant and the manner in which it forms and disappears as the cap expands is worth a careful study. This is well shown in Figs. 75, 76, from photographs of plants (No. 3731 C. U. herbarium) made at Blowing Rock, N. C, during September, 1899.