If it is true that in nature there are many edible mushrooms, often very tasty and delicious, it must always be remembered that there are as many that are toxic and harmful to health: in some cases, even deadly. The biggest problem is that there are often species that have very similar morphological characteristics, and therefore you can easily confuse a good mushroom with a bad one. In reality, however, there are no two perfectly identical mushrooms: there are always aspects that make the difference, and can therefore help in the recognition of a mushroom. For example, the Amanita verna could easily be confused with a mushroom of the genus Agaricus, or with the common field mushrooms, which are edible. The Amanita verna, on the other hand, is poisonous, and can even lead to death: this is how to recognize it and avoid risks.
The characteristics of the Amanita verna
If you are looking for mushrooms in the woods, it is essential to know all the characteristics of the various species, in order to recognize them: and this assumption is even more important if you want to avoid bringing a poisonous mushroom to the table. For this reason, it is essential to always subject the collected mushrooms to being examined by the ASL, or an expert mycologist, who can ascertain their identity. As for the Amanita verna, its appearance is very similar to that of the Amanita phalloides, except for the detail that the verna is completely white, or in any case of a light color. The hat of the Amanita verna is silky, almost shiny; when it ages it becomes yellowish and can reach a maximum of ten or twelve centimeters in diameter. The stem is rather stocky, up to ten centimeters high, enlarged at the root. Around the stem there are anelllo and volva. The fungus does not give off an odor, except when it ages, and it is an unpleasant aroma.
How to recognize the Amanita verna
Amanita verna is easy to confuse with field mushrooms, of the genus Agaricus, and this tragic exchange can lead to death the unwary collector. But there is a very simple way to discover the identity of the Amanita verna, which concerns a characteristic that is particular to it. It is always necessary to completely extract the mushroom from the soil: it will be possible to notice the volva, which is very large; the other mushrooms, on the other hand, generally do not have it, or, if present, it is smaller. Furthermore, Amanita verna is found in deciduous forests, and it prefers trees such as holm oak and hazel. The period in which it is most widespread in the woods goes from spring to autumn (hence the name verna, a term that in Latin means spring), and prefers calcareous soils, and Mediterranean-type climates. Fortunately, however, it is not very widespread, so it is difficult to come across one of his specimens.
The consequences of the ingestion of the Amanita verna
The reason why Amanita verna is so dangerous for humans is in some substances it contains, which are called amatoxins, such as amanitin. These toxic substances act above all in the liver, and their most dangerous aspect is that the effects on the organism are not felt after several hours, even up to 24 hours, after the ingestion of the poisonous fungus. First there are the normal symptoms of intoxication, namely vomiting, diarrhea and belly pains. In debilitated individuals, severe dehydration can lead to death at this stage. Otherwise, there is a brief improvement, and then there are liver and kidney complications, and later death. In recent times, the mortality rate due to the ingestion of the Amanita verna has been reduced, but it always remains above 20%.