Mushroom Hunters Club

This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms. To see some of our previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured mushrooms.

 April's Mushroom of the Month

Amanita brunnescens: the Cleft-Foot Amanita

Amanita brunnescens

Photo by Joseph O'Brien

The cleft-foot Amanita is a relatively large, attractive amanita that, like most Amanitas, should not be eaten.  Guidebook authors differ on the edibility of this mushroom, but most consider it probably poisonous.  The closest look-alike to this mushroom is Amanita phalloides, the death cap.  The main distinguishing feature of A. phalloides is the saclike volva (cup) around the base as opposed to the cleft bulb of A. brunnescens.  While A. phalloides has not been reported from Michigan, several of our knowledgeable members believe that it has spread to Michigan.  It has been recorded in Ohio.

The brownish, convex cap with whitish to pale brown patches ranges from 1 to 6 inches (2.5 to 15 cm.) wide.  The caps become flat with age, with a darker brown slightly raised center (an umbo).  The stalk has a thick, sharp-edged bulb that splits vertically and ranges from 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm.) tall and 3/8 to 3/4 inches (1 to 2 cm.) thick.  The flesh is white.  The broad, white gills are free (not attached to the stalk) and are close spaced.  The spore print is white.  The stalk and cap stain reddish-brown with age and handling.  The odor, especially near the stalk base is like raw potatoes.

Though some Amanitas are edible, we generally recommend that our members should stay away from the entire genus.  Some knowledgeable members have eaten A. rubescens (the blusher), A. vaginata (the grisette) and A. fulva (the tawny grisette) but extreme care is required with this genus.

Amanita brunnescens group