Public Description of Galerina autumnalis (Peck) A.H. Sm. & Singer

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Name: Galerina autumnalis (Peck) A.H. Sm. & Singer
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 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Karl Richte (Private)

Description status: Approved
 (Latest review: 2010-04-11 08:52:23 EDT (-0400) by nathan)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Strophariaceae
Genus: Galerina

General Description:

Galerina autumnalis is a relatively small, brown mushroom that often forms clusters on well decayed logs. This species is commonly known as the Deadly Galerina because it produces a very potent and dangerous toxin known as α-amanitin. The same toxin is found in the Death Angel mushroom and other Amanita species, and may lead to death if consumed. Specifically, the toxin produced attacks RNA polymerase in cells, which is needed to transcribe DNA into RNA. Once ingested, the toxin accumulates in the liver and often causes organ failure and death (Volk 2003). The fruiting body is small and inconspicuous, often superficially resembling edible honey mushrooms.

Diagnostic Description:

Cap: Brown, convex to flat, 1-5 cm across. Moist to wet in both appearence and touch. Flesh is very thin, tan. Odor not distinctive (Bessette 1997).

Gills: Attached to slightly decurrent. Tan to yellowish when young, becoming rusty brown with spore production.

Stipe: 3-10 cm tall, 3-8 mm thick. Generally tan in color and becoming darker brown and near the base, sometimes with white floccules or fibrils. Thin, fragile white annulus present, becoming rusty brown with age due to spore accumulation.

Spores: Rusty brown, born on basidia. 8-11 by 5-6.5 µm. Roughened in appearance, due to plage covering (Volk 2003).

See Tom Volk’s page on Galerina autumnalis


Widely distributed throughout the United States. Molecular techniques have shown that European variants, once thought to be different species, are now considered the same (Kuo 2004).

See Michael Kuo’s page on Galerina marginata


Found mostly in moist forested areas on well decayed wood. Saprophyte of both conifer and hardwoods. Galerina has a long growing season, found abundantly during the fall and is common throughout the year. This makes sense because the mycelium has been known to fruit more than once in a season (Volk 2003). Moss is commonly found around the fungus.

Look Alikes:

At first glance, Galerina autumnalis resembles many edible members of Armillaria (honey mushrooms) and Flammulina. In fact, Galerina often grows on the same log! This makes accidental collection of this deadly mushroom easy when on the hunt for a tasty honey mushroom dinner. Because of this, care must be taken to identify species before consumption. Thankfully, Galerina has brown gills and spore print, while both the honey mushroom and Flammulina have white gills and spores.


This fungus, along with other saprophytes, plays a key role in nutrient cycling within the forest ecosystem.


Bessette, A.E., A.R. Bessette, D.W. Fischer. 1997. Mushrooms of Northwestern North America. 1st Ed. Syracuse University Press. Hong Kong. 118

Kuo, M. (2004, August). Galerina marginata. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

Volk, T. (2003, May). Galerina autumnalis, the deadly Galerina. Retrieved from the Tom Volks Fungus of the Month website:


page by:
Karl Richters
UW-L Mycology

Description authors: Tom Volk, Karl Richters (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, aythya-amanita

Created: 2008-12-25 19:59:16 EST (-0500) by Tom Volk (TomVolk)
Last modified: 2010-04-11 08:52:23 EDT (-0400) by Nathan Wilson (nathan)
Viewed: 3283 times, last viewed: 2017-03-01 03:57:16 EST (-0500)