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Amanita Phalloides

Amanita phalloides

Death Cup; Poison Amanita (Poisonous)

Cap or Pileus - White or greenish or greyish brown; smooth, no striations; width, 3-5 inches.

Stem or Stipe - Ring present. Abruptly bulbous at the base; bulb margined by the wrapper remains. White in white cap forms, tinged with a paler shade than the cap in browncap forms. Pithy when young, hollow when old. 3-6 inches long.

Veil - White in white-cap forms, tinged with brown in brown cap forms.

Gills or Lamellae - White, free from the stem, rounded at the stem end, rather broad. Spores-Globose and white.

Flesh - White.

Time - July to October.

Habitat - Woods, groves, open places, and pastures.

The poisonous principle of the death cup is known as phallin, one of the tox-albumins, the poisons found in rattlesnakes and other venomous animals, and the poisons which produce death in cholera and diphtheria.

The phallin acts directly upon the blood corpuscles, dissolving these, so that the serum of the blood escapes from the bloodvessels into the alimentary canal and drains the whole system of its vitality.

There is no known antidote by which the effects of phallin may be counteracted. If one has eaten of the Amanita phalloides, the only chance of saving life is to remove the undigested parts from the alimentary canal by stomach-pump and oil purgatives; then, if the amount of phallin absorbed into the system is not too great, the remainder may wear itself out on the blood and the patient may recover.

The amount of the fungus which is necessary to produce death is small; even the handling of specimens and the breathing in of spores affect some people unpleasantly.