Taxonomy and Naming
The death cap was first described by French botanist Sébastien Vaillant in 1727, who gave a succinct phrase name "Fungus phalloides, annulatus, sordide virescens, et patulus", which is still recognizable as the fungus today (Vaillant 1727).Though the scientific name phalloides means "phallus-shaped", it is unclear whether it is named for its resemblance to a literal phallus or the stinkhorn mushrooms Phallus. In 1821, Elias Magnus Fries described it as Agaricus phalloides, but included all white Amanitas within its description (Fries 1821). Finally in 1833, Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link settled on the name Amanita phalloides (Link 1833), after Persoon had named it Amanita viridis thirty years earlier (Persoon 1797, Persoon 1801). Although Louis Secretan's use of the name Amanita phalloides predates Link's, it has been rejected for nomenclatural purposes because Secretan's works did not use binomial nomenclature consistently (Donk 1962, Demoulin 1974); some taxonomists have, however, disagreed with this opinion (Singer et al. 1962, Machol 1984).
Amanita phalloides is the type species of Amanita section Phalloideae, a group that contains all of the deadly poisonous Amanita species thus far identified. Most notable of these are the species known as destroying angels, namely Amanita virosa and A. bisporiga as well as the fool's mushroom (A. verna). The term "destroying angel" has been applied to A. phalloides at times, but "death cap" is by far the most common vernacular name used in English. Other common names also listed include "stinking amanita" (North 1967) and "deadly amanita" (Benjamin 1995).
A rarely appearing all-white form was initially described A. phalloides f. alba by Max Britzelmayr (Tulloss, Jordan et al. 2001), though its status has been unclear. It is often found growing amid normally coloured death caps. It has been described, in 2004, as a distinct variety and includes what was termed A. verna var. tarda.(Neville 2004) The true Amanita verna fruits in spring and turns yellow with KOH solution, whereas A. phalloides never does (Tulloss).
- Benjamin, Denis R. (1995). Mushrooms: poisons and panaceas — a handbook for naturalists, mycologists and physicians. New York: WH Freeman and Company.
- Demoulin, V. (November 1974). "Invalidity of Names Published in Secretan's Mycographie Suisse and Some Remarks on the Problem of Publication by Reference". Taxon 23 (5/6): 836–843.
- Donk, M.A. (June 1962). "On Secretan's Fungus Names". Taxon 11 (5): 170–173.
- Fries, Elias Magnus (1821). Systema Mycologicum I. Gryphiswaldiae: Ernesti Mauritii.
- Jordan Peter, Wheeler Steven. (2001). The Ultimate Mushroom Book. London: Hermes House.
- Link JHF (1833) Grundriss der Kraeuterkunde IV. Haude und Spenerschen Buchhandlung (S.J. Joseephy), Berlin
- Machol, Robert E. (August 1984). "Leave the Code Alone". Taxon 33 (3): 532–533.
- Neville, Pierre; Serge Poumarat (2004). Amaniteae: Amanita, Limacella and Torrendia, Fungi Europaei (9).
- North, Pamela Mildred (1967). Poisonous plants and fungi in colour. London: Blandford Press.
- Persoon, Christian Hendrik (1797). Tentamen Dispositionis Methodicae Fungorum. Lipsiae: P.P. Wolf,.
- Persoon, Christian Hendrik (1801). Synopsis Methodica Fungorum. GÖttingen: H. Dietrich.
- Singer, Rolf; Robert E. Machol (June 1962). "Are Secretan's Fungus Names Valid?". Taxon 26 (2/3): 251–255.
- Tulloss, Rodham E. Amanita verna (Bull.: Fr.) Lam. Amanita Studies site. Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
- Tulloss, Rodham E. (Fr.:Fr.) Link. Amanita Studies site. Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
- Vaillant, Sébastien (1727). Botanicon Parisiense. Leide & Amsterdam: J. H. Verbeek and B. Lakeman. (Plate and Explication in the Biodiversity Heritage Library.)
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