A gray cap with white patches and a radially grooved margin, and a stalk with a large, white, saclike cup around the base. June–September. Cap oval, becoming bell-shaped to convex or flat, with a central knob; gray, occasionally with a few white patches; texture smooth, tacky when wet; margin radially grooved. Gills: width moderately broad; spacing close to crowded; whitish; attachment free. Stalk cylindrical, with an elongated, white, saclike cup around the base; whitish; texture smooth or mealy; hollow, lacking a ring. Universal veil white, sometimes leaving patches on the cap and a large, white, saclike cup around the base of the stalk. Spore print white. Spores magnified are round, smooth.
Lookalikes: Other Amanita species.
Cap width: 2–4 inches; stalk length: 4–8 inches; stalk width: ¼–¾ inch.
Habitat and Conservation
Grows on the ground in open woods and in grass near trees. Recent research, including DNA testing, has shown that what we now call Amanita vaginata is actually many different species. Taxonomists may soon divide this species and create others.
Not recommended for eating. Although some people have been known to eat the grisette, not enough is known about its edibility to recommend it. It could easily be mistaken for a deadly species of Amanita.
This species is mycorrhizal: It exists most of the time as a network of cells (mycelium) connected to tree roots, in a symbiotic relationship with the tree. Many trees fare poorly without their fungal partners. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the mushroom, which is the reproductive structure. Spores are produced in the gills and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere. The mycelium of a mushroom can live for decades.
The name “grisette” refers to the color of the cheap gray unbleached fabric used in the dresses worn by nineteenth-century French working-class women — the color of this mushroom must have reminded someone of those dresses!
This is one of the many fungus species that help nourish forest trees through a symbiotic connection with tree roots. The netlike fibers of the fungus multiply the roots' ability for absorbing water and nutrients. In return, the tree shares nutrients with the fungus.
Mushrooms are a lot like plants, but they lack chlorophyll and have to take nutrients from other materials. Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. They are in a different kingdom — the fungi. Fungi include the familiar mushroom-forming species, plus the yeasts, molds, smuts, and rusts.
Always be cautious when eating edible mushrooms. Be absolutely sure of the ID, and only eat a small amount the first time you try it to avoid a reaction..