Destroying angel

The name destroying angel applies to several similar, closely related species of deadly all-white mushrooms in the genus Amanita.[1] They are Amanita bisporigera and A. ocreata in eastern and western North America, and A. virosa in Europe.[1] Another very similar species, A. verna or fool's mushroom was first described in France[citation needed].

Closely related to the death cap (A. phalloides) they are among the most toxic known mushrooms, containing amatoxins as death caps do.[1]



A half-grown destroying angel

Destroying angels are characterized by having a white stalk and gills. The cap can be pure white, or white at the edge and yellowish, pinkish, or tan at the center. It has a partial veil, or ring (annulus) circling the upper stalk, and the gills are "free," not attached to the stalk. Perhaps the most telltale of the features is the presence of a volva, or universal veil, so called because it is a membrane that encapsulates the entire mushroom, rather like an egg, when it is very young. This structure breaks as the young mushroom expands, leaving parts that can be found at the base of the stalk as a boot or cuplike structure, and there may be patches of removable material on the cap surface. This combination of features, all found together in the same mushroom, is the hallmark of the family. While other families may have any one or two of these features, none have them all. The cap is usually about 5–12 cm across; the stipe is usually 7½–20 cm long and about ½–2 cm thick. They are found singly or in small groups[citation needed].

Young specimens like this are sometimes confused with puffballs or other non-deadly mushrooms

Destroying angels can be mistaken for edible fungi such as the button mushroom, meadow mushroom, or the horse mushroom. Young destroying angels that are still enclosed in their universal veil can be mistaken for puffballs, but slicing them in half longitudinally will reveal internal mushroom structures. This is the basis for the common recommendation to slice in half all puffball-like mushrooms picked when mushroom hunting. Mushroom hunters recommend that people know how to recognize both the death cap and the destroying angel in all of their forms before collecting any white gilled mushroom for consumption.[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat

All Amanita species form ectomycorrhizal relationships with the roots of certain trees. Thus destroying angels grow in or near the edges of woodlands. They can also be found on lawns or grassy meadows near trees or shrubs. Several species called Destroying Angel are found all over the world.[citation needed]


The destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera) and the death cap (Amanita phalloides) are responsible for the overwhelming majority of deaths due to mushroom poisoning. The toxin responsible for this is amatoxin. Symptoms do not appear for 5 to 24 hours, when the toxins may already be absorbed and the damage (destruction of liver and kidney tissues) done. As little as half a mushroom cap can be fatal if the victim is not treated quickly enough. The symptoms include vomiting, cramps, delirium, convulsions, and diarrhea. In one experiment, people who had ingested the toxin were treated with "fluid and electrolyte replacement, oral activated charcoal and lactulose, IV penicillin, combined hemodialysis and hemoperfusion in two 8-hour sessions", some with "IV thioctic acid, others IV silibinin" and all received a "special diet." It was concluded that "...intensive combined treatment applied in these cases is effective in relieving patients with both moderate and severe amanitin poisoning."[2]

Physicians have had success in treatment of amatoxin poisoning using "anti-hepatotoxic" compounds from the milk thistle, Silybum marianum. A crude extract of flavolignans from S. marianum seeds, called silymarin (trade name Legalon) has proven useful in amatoxin poisoning cases. In a trial of one of the flavolignans silybin, in 60 patients poisoned by amatoxin-containing Amanita species, there were no deaths. (see Der Marderosian & Liberti 1988 and Foster 1991 for a summary of this work).[3]

See also

Karl Johanssvamp, Iduns kokbok.png Fungi portal


  1. ^ a b c "Gene family encoding the major toxins of lethal Amanita mushrooms". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  2. ^ Sabeel, A.I.; Kurkus J., Lindholm T. (September 1995). "Intensive hemodialysis and hemoperfusion treatment of Amanita mushroom poisoning". Mycopathologia 131 (2): 107–114. doi:10.1007/BF01102888. PMID 8532053. 
  3. ^ Ott, Jonathan (1993). Pharmacotheon. Kennewicker, WA: Natural Product Co.. pp. 354. ISBN 0-9614234-2-0. 

External links

A. abrupta
  • A. nauseosa
  • A. proxima
  • A. smithiana
  • A. sphaerobulbosa
  • A. thiersii
  • Compounds
    • Allenic norleucine (2-amino-4,5-hexadienoic acid)
    • Propargylglycine
    A. rubescens (A. amerirubescens nom. prov.)
    • Rubescenslysin

    Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

    Look at other dictionaries:

    • destroying angel — n. either of two species (Amanita verna or A. virosa) of large, deadly, white amanita mushrooms found during warm weather in moist forests …   English World dictionary

    • destroying angel — noun 1. extremely poisonous usually white fungus with a prominent cup shaped base; differs from edible Agaricus only in its white gills • Syn: ↑death cap, ↑death cup, ↑death angel, ↑Amanita phalloides • Hypernyms: ↑agaric • Member …   Useful english dictionary

    • destroying angel — noun Date: circa 1900 any of several very poisonous pure white amanita mushrooms (as Amanita verna or A. virosa) ; death cap …   New Collegiate Dictionary

    • destroying angel — any of several deadly poisonous mushrooms of the genus Amanita, having a white cap and stem, white spores, and a conspicuous volva at the base of the stem. [1905 10] * * * …   Universalium

    • destroying angel — noun A deadly toxic mushroom in the Amanita genus; Amanita virosa …   Wiktionary

    • destroying angel — de·stroy·ing an·gel di .strȯi( i)ŋ ān jəl n any of several very poisonous pure white mushrooms of the genus Amanita (as A. verna, A. virosa, or A. ocreata) also a death cap (A. phalloides) whether white or colored …   Medical dictionary

    • destroying angel — noun a deadly poisonous white toadstool which grows in woodland. [Amanita virosa.] …   English new terms dictionary

    • destroying angel — destroy′ing an′gel n. fng any of several deadly poisonous mushrooms of the genus Amanita[/ex] • Etymology: 1905–10 …   From formal English to slang

    • Destroying angel (disambiguation) — Destroying angel is a name applied to several similar, closely related species of deadly species of Amanita mushrooms. Destroying angel may also refer to: Destroying angel (Bible), in various passages Destroying Angel, a member of the Mormon… …   Wikipedia

    • Destroying Angel (Midsomer Murders episode) — Destroying Angel Midsomer Murders episode Episode no. Season 4 Episode 2 Directed by David Tucker Written …   Wikipedia

    Share the article and excerpts

    Direct link
    Do a right-click on the link above
    and select “Copy Link”

    We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.