Delightful Amanitas

Gemmed Amanita | Amanita gemmata
Gemmed Amanita | Amanita gemmata

Fall on the West Coast can be spectacular when the sun makes an appearance and breaks up the days of grey clouds and rain. Such was the case on Monday this week and Jocie and I decided to make the best of it. We packed the children into the car and headed out to Ship’s Point, just south of Buckley Bay.

Our objectives were to do some leisurely birdwatching (as best one can with an infant and active toddler) and search for mushrooms. It was a great morning to be out for a walk and we found some great mushrooms including a group of Gemmed Amanita (Amanita gemmata).

Gemmed Amanita | Amanita gemmata
Gemmed Amanita | Amanita gemmata

The amanitas are a genus that is fairly easy to recognize. Arora identifies the “white spores, pallid gills, and presence of a universal veil” as key features to look for. As the mushroom grows, the universal veil breaks, leaving behind a volva at the base of the stalk as well as warts or a volval patch on the top of the mushroom. Refer to Arora’s book Mushrooms Demystifiedfor a detailed account of the characteristics of amanitas.

Most people are more familiar with the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) pictured below. I’ve seen a few Fly Agarics this year but none as spectacular as this one that I photographed a number of years ago at East Sooke Regional Park near Victoria.

Fly Agaric | Amanita muscaria
Fly Agaric | Amanita muscaria

The amanitas are well worth keeping an eye out for. They’re large and showy, relatively easy to identify, and a delight to photograph. Their discovery often brightens a dark, grey West Coast day.