Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Great Big Amanita Rubescens Post, and I caught a turtle eating a mushroom.

Amanita rubescens small under larger cap
Amanita rubescens 6-23-2013

Mid-to-late June here in central Missouri was glorious, mushroom-wise.

There was a short mini-drought several weeks earlier that lasted about two weeks and scared the heck out of me, because last summer there was a long and terrible drought. No precipitation = little to no fungi. But regular early summer rain came, and the forest floor exploded.

There were several species in great abundance that I’d only seen here and there in previous years. The handsome Amanita rubescens was one of them.

Amanita rubescens button Amanita rubescens lost scales red on cap

Above, both are Amanita rubescens. The one on the right is shop-worn and has lost a lot of its cap patches (from heavy rain, I bet). But those red dents and divots (damage from bugs and animals, most likely) give it away. “Rubescens” means “reddening” in Latin which is how it got one of its common names, “blusher.”

Amanita rubescens heavy cap scales
Not-quite-mature Amanita rubescens

The toffee sprinkles all over the cap (above) are the remains of its universal veil, which enclosed the entire mushroom before it burst out of it. They are like pieces of a torn sheet. So if you deconstructed this mushroom you could rejoin all those warts, like kids do with maps of the world.

big blusher from trail

See that tawny orange thing right in the middle of the image above?

big blusher as found

It was the biggest blusher I’ve ever seen! Even though I hadn't seen many!

big blusher with foot big blusher with hand

There it is with my foot! There it is with my hand!

I didn't see any others like this one, so flat. And huge!

Unusual also in that it was in nearly perfect condition. Every other one I saw this summer had a blushing chunk missing, or a red bruise, or both.

big blusher cap edge

big blusher entire cap
Amanita rubescens fully expanded cap. Click to view large! Click any image to view large!

Amanita rubescens (2)

The big floppy skirt on the one above is its partial veil, which used to cover the gills. As the cap expands, the veil tears free from the edge of the cap and remains attached to the stalk. That’s the “ring” the field guides mean. But sometimes the ring falls off, so don’t get crazy!

I saw another one of those things you hardly ever see! A big ol’ box turtle eating a big ol’ mushroom, right next to the trail.

turtle eating mushroom trail view

Some kind of Russula, looks like.

turtle eating mushroom birdseye view turtle eating mushroom top view close

If you spend any time at all in the woods you see turtles. I'm a little surprised when I don't see a turtle. But usually I see a turtle seeing me and pulling into its shell, not in the middle of a big meal of juicy, succulent mushroom.

Next time I see it I'll know those pointy missing chunks were from a turtle.

turtle eating mushroom side view

He was getting pretty nervous about me sticking my camera in his world so I left.


  1. That is a big beautiful blusher and gorgeously photographed. You have a great writing style, your posts are always so descriptive. It brings the subject to life!

  2. Well then my work here is done! Thank you so much for your kind words.