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Growing list:

  • Amanita

  • Agaricus

  • Purple mushrooms

Identifications

We are checking the literature to help you distinguish between similar looking species...

More and more such identification explanations or comparisons for other taxa will be added over time. So watch this space...

Comparisons
  • The genus Amanita is usually characterized by having white gills, a ring on the stipe and a sack-like structure around the base of the stipe (called a volva).  Many of the species also have warts or scales (remnants of the sack that surrounded the young mushroom) on their caps.  In South Africa there are a number of Amanita species, with three of them having white or whitish caps. These include Amanita praeclara (occurring worldwide), and A. foetidissima and A. veldiei, both of which are only known from South Africa. If you want to know how to distinguish between them, you can click here.  We do not really know what the exact geographical ranges of these species are, and they are thus the focus of a survey project that will also determine their conservation status and level of introduction.

  • There are more species of Amanita occurring in South Africa. Some of them can be confusingly similar (such as A. pantherina, A. exelsa and A. rubescens).  Identifying them is very important because they literally contain one of the deadliest mushrooms, and other species are also poisonous. Ironically they look similar to edible species in Agaricus, and it is thus important to be able to identify them. Here you can find a comparison of the best known Amanita species.  There are still some other species recorded and I am sure some new ones, and we need good photographs to show to you (such as A. vaginata).  ​Species in this genus have mostly been introduced with their non-native hosts because they are ecto-mycorrhizal (except some species such as A. veldiei) and we are actively surveying them as one of our Invasion Biology projects.

  • Agaricus is a genus containing many many species.  It includes many edible species (some cultivated that can be found in stores as button, white, portebellini and large brown mushrooms).  They do, however, also contain poisonous species.  Identifying them is thus important, especially since they also look similar to Amanita species.  They are usually white-beige-brownish, many with different types of scales.  They often have rings but no volva.  The best way to usually know if it is Agaricus is the gills that are various shades of brown (pink at first and becoming brown when the dark spores form).  The gills of Amanita are white. A number of species from South Africa have been illustrated in field guides, but so many more out there, are not known.  That is mostly because we basically identified the ones known from places not in Africa (or misidentified them) and our numerous native species or those known further north in Africa, are still obscure,  I am thus still in two minds of how to make species pages for you, but watch this space.  Most important to know for Agaricus is their type of smell, whether they stain (red, yellow, brown, nothing), and the effect of some chemicals with fresh tissue or spores.  Then many microscopic features also distinguish species.

  • Purple fungi are striking.  There are four such purple mushrooms currently known from South Africa, and they have easy to recognize features to distinguish between them (see here). Of these, only Tricholosporum laeteviolaceum is currently known from South Africa alone, and surveys to determine its geographical range and conservation status is currently being done.