Observation 32264: Amanita sect. Lepidella sensu Bas

When: 2009-09-28

Collection location: Blacksburg, Virginia, USA [Click for map]

Who: Mark Prosser (mark prosser)

No specimen available

I believe this is Amanita muscaria var. alba but was also looking a A. cokeri. Appears to have a light pink undertone beneath the prominent white warts. All ideas and clarifying information to distinguish this specie is appreciated. Thanks, Mark

[admin – Sat Aug 14 01:58:38 +0000 2010]: Changed location name from ‘Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A.’ to ‘Blacksburg, Virginia, USA



Proposed Names

72% (4)
Eye3 Eyes3
Recognized by sight
Used references: on line photos
-93% (3)
Recognized by sight
45% (2)
Used references: Mushroom Observer discussion and photos

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Eye3 = Observer’s choice
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more thoughts on amanita
By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2010-01-24 15:05:00 EST (-0500)

From Rod’s analysis, it seems that the problem with splitting Amanita stems from the choice of A. muscaria as the type for the genus. If instead a species like Amanita abrupta had been chosen as the type of the genus, then it would not be problematic to acknowledge the muscarioid branch as it’s own monophyletic taxon, which could be given a genus level name.

As it stands now, we have a species on a peripheral branch acting as the type of the entire tree.

It seems that if a new type for the genus were chosen from among the lepedillas, then splitting the group at it’s joints would be less problematic.

Of course, changing type specimens for taxa is a bit like scrapping the old scheme and starting over again.

Thanks Rod, and thanks Dan.
By: Mark Prosser (mark prosser)
2010-01-20 19:06:32 EST (-0500)

Now there is the beauty of the Mushroom Observer site. A spirited discussion that informs. As someone new to mycology but a long time amateur naturalist this detailed dialogue is fantastic for learning. I really appreciate the time, effort, and quality of all the contributions. Well done. Mark

By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2010-01-20 13:05:18 EST (-0500)

OK, you convinced me Rod. I won’t try to break up Amanita any more.

By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-01-20 12:08:23 EST (-0500)

I can’t say that my day has just been “made” by the question of separation of section Lepidella from the genus Amanita. It can be considered a provocative question.

It has been tried (raising Lepidella to the rank of genus) by a mycologist named E.-J. Gilbert, under the name “Aspidella”; however, after a dozen or more years (apparently in the midst of writing his magnum opus, “Amanitaceae”), he went back to an all inclusive concept of the genus Amanita.

The difficulty lies in this: If you believe that a genus represents a natural grouping descendant from a single common ancestor, then you have to take all the evidence into account as to what and when that ancestor might be and have been…especially when you’re thinking of dividing up a genus.

All the present day evidence, both molecular and morphological says that the genus Amanita is a group descending from a common ancestor. (Persoon got this right before 1800!)

The morphological evidence says that that ancestor was Limacella-like as well as Amanita-like. Molecular evidence suggests that the ancestor of Limacella preceded the ancestor of Amanita.

Morphological work going back to the publication of Dr. Bas’ thesis in 1969 suggests that the still living group of amanitas that contains species with some of the “oldest” morphology lies within section Lepidella. Moreover, Bas’s brilliant (if I may say so) analysis is supported by 21st Century DNA sequencing results on this particular point: The members of Amanita subsect. Vittadiniae (within sect. Lepidella) are very likely to be the living group of amanitas with the oldest common ancestor of any group of amanitas; moreover, they are descendant from an ancestor that had NOT BECOME MYCORRHIZAL…and many of them still aren’t mycorrhizal (in the U.S., this includes species like A. nauseosa, A. thiersii, A. prairiicola, A. subcaligata, etc.).

In fact, if any of you all have heard a talk from me at one foray or another in the last six months, there’s a chance you heard my story of the two sisters Limacella and Ur-Amanita and how the second, being non-conformant and thinking belly-button piercing wasn’t good enough, decided to be DIFFERENT in a big way. Under the fairy tale there is the observed microscopic anatomy of the two genera. As you might expect from their being the only two genera in the family Amanitaceae, they share a lot in common.

To shorten the story, the group within secton Lepidella that is most Limacella-like is, as you might well expect, those non-mycorrhizal amanitas in subsect. Vittadiniae.

So let’s step back and look at a broader scope. The Vittadiniae are the most like the hypothetical mother of all amanitas. Their hypothetical ancestor (Big Mama Amanita) is very likely to be the oldest ancestor of any group in the genus. The Lepidellas as a whole are likely to have arisen from an ancestor or ancestors that are now extinct, but very likely to have shared many or all (we’ll never know for sure, but we can collect what evidence we can find) of the defining characters of the taxa in subsect. Vittadiniae. There is no evidence contradicting the hypothesis that the sections Amidella, Phalloideae, and Validae having arisen from an ancestor that was what we would call a species of sect. Lepidella. All extant theories propose that sections Amanita, Caesareae, and Vaginatae arose from an ancestor that was what we would call a Lepidella, but lost the ability to put enough starch in its spore walls so that they could produce the amyloid reaction with Melzer’s reagent. That happened a very long time ago, and DNA sequencing to date really doesn’t teach us much about the origins of subgenus Amanita (the guys with the “no starch please” tag on their spore walls).

Bottomline: Lepidella is a sprawling bush with mostly scattered, single branchlets here and there on the ancient branches most of these branchlets bearing only a few species (leaves in the bush metaphor). [There are two branchlets represented only in Australia that seem to have even as many or ten or a dozen leaves (the A. straminea group and the A. grossa group). These are exceptions to my overly general statement.] But once the ancestors of Lepidella ruled the genus. Once, they walked the universe like giants or gods… Oh. No. Ooops. Wrong story (see reruns of the great SciFi series, “Babylon 5,” if there are any).

At any rate, if one cuts off Lepidella, the other sections float off in groups (the biggest remaining branches of the former tree), the trunk is gone. Under such circumstances, the genus Amanita would be reduced to what is now subgenus Amanita or maybe even what is now section Amanita. Too much chaos. There are well-known and well-funded mycologists who want to break the genus up. And, off and on, there will be others. Sometime(s) they may succeed in getting a consensus of enough mycologists to really change the way future people talk will talk about Amanita. They could even succeed in some sense “permanently.”

Let us say that, at present at least, I am loathe to do, or be a party to doing, such a thing.

Very best,


By: Dan Molter (shroomydan)
2010-01-20 11:09:35 EST (-0500)

Hi Rod
Amanita subcokeri is the name you put on this Lepidella I found a few years ago. They could be the same.

As to the name, I agree that by convention “Amanita sp. sect Lepidella” is more correct than “Lepidella sp.” However, the latter is easier to say and remember.

Why not split Amanita and elevate “Lepidella” to the level of genus?

Just a thought, I don’t know what would actually be required to justify the split.

pink staining in the flesh…
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-01-20 10:26:40 EST (-0500)

I just realized that there is a species very similar to A. cokeri that has pink staining in the flesh. That doesn’t mean it’s the only such species. Just that it came to my mind. I think someone (me?) may have used my provisional name for the species I’m thinking of on MO…“Amanita subcokeri Tulloss nom. prov.” ????


I think the “model of phrasing”…
By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-01-20 10:23:29 EST (-0500)

that has been invented by the population at MO is

Amanita sp. (sect. Lepidella)

There’s no harm I guess in creating a “cloud of variants” for the phrasing except that the software does its best to make sense of all the variation and we end up having the genus Amanita “synonymized” (not in the technical taxonomic sense, but in the less formal sense of MO) with lots of phrases that are really not synonyms. That aspect makes for messy places around the edges. I have no solution to offer except to try reduce the total variation…

Very best,


Thanks Rod, and thanks Dan.
By: Mark Prosser (mark prosser)
2010-01-20 08:13:30 EST (-0500)

Great diagnostic information that will be helpful to me in the future. Given the limitations of not having the specimen in hand and spores under a microscope, would the most accurate ID be notated Amanita sp. Lepidella sect.? Thanks Again, Mark

By: R. E. Tulloss (ret)
2010-01-19 23:51:50 EST (-0500)

Well, the cap flesh seems to breaking up into sort of pillars under the warts.

The stipe base looks as though it might have a base that is more rooting than you’d expect on something in the muscarioid group.

I think you might well have something in sect. Lepidella.

It’s an interesting photo. Environmental conditions can cause cracking like that. A dry spell gets everything glued together and then a burst of growth after a rain makes for tremendous pressure that would ordinarily stretch the cap and (there being a normally gelatinized layer under the warts) they’d slip and slide around on the expanding surface. But with the dried glue the nearly omni-directional pressure splits up the cap like a mosaic and then the the splits become “chasms” tearing down into the cap flesh.

Very best,


Created: 2010-01-19 22:45:30 EST (-0500)
Last modified: 2012-06-06 17:40:31 EDT (-0400)
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