Amanita rubescens

Shy Amanita? The Blusher

There is quite a few of these babies popping up around now. It can be a confusing species to identify because of the similarities with the Panther Cap and Grey Spotted Amanita.

Aminita RubescensThe Blusher (Amanita rubescens) is one of the more common Amanita mushrooms. Summer to autumn is the best time to find them, usually solitary, in coniferous and deciduous woodland.

It was hard to choose a category to place it in my blog, because it is a poisonous mushroom but very edible once properly cooked (with cooking water discarded). So if you intend to eat it, making sure you have the right Amanita is naturally top priority. Same goes for any other mushroom you want to consume really.

Blushers have a varied cap colour range. They are often reddish-brown with red tinted or dull grey/white spots (veil remnants), or can be paler with flesh/pinkish tones. Fortunately I have two examples in this post to show in pictures. The paler one was found in Leicestershire and the darker red-brown example was found much further north in Scotland. I don’t know if geographical location bears any relation in this difference. Interesting though.

The Blusher gets it’s common name from the way damaged or insect nibbled parts of the mushroom (including the gills) turn pink or reddish-pink. If you handle the mushroom you will notice these changes as the ‘blushing colour’ slowly appears.

Another distinctive characteristic is that the large floppy ring on the stem has grooved (striate) markings on the top side. Armed with this information you can be sure of not confusing the Blusher with the very poisonous Panther Cap (Amanita pantherina). To mention key points, the Panther Cap has ‘pure’ white scales on it’s cap and does not have striate markings on the ring at all.

Another similar looking mushroom is the Grey Spotted Amanita (Amanita excelsa) which also fruits in summer and autumn. It has a brown (sometimes greyish) cap with dull whitish scales which eventually wash off to leave a smooth surface. It also has a grooved ring but does not ‘blush’ when handled or damaged. It is said to be edible, but I think it would be best to be avoided altogether.

I haven’t cooked and eaten a Blusher, but I have read that they are very tasty indeed. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have experienced the taste (along with a good recipe if you have one)! Thanks.

Aminita mushroom

Notice the pinkish tinge on the cap and scales in this red/brown coloured Blusher.

Blusher Toadstool

A pink/flesh-coloured Blusher. Note the ‘grooved’ markings on the upper side of the ring and the reddish-pink damaged areas. Bottom-left: A young blusher

QUICK ID TABLE: THE BLUSHER Amanita rubescens

CAP / FLESH

5-15cm width. Pinkish or flesh coloured to reddish-brown. Off white/grey scales sometimes with reddish patches. Nibbled areas are flushed with pinkish-red colour.

STEM

6-14cm x 1-2.5cm. White with pinkish/reddish tints. Bulbous base. Large ring, grooved (striated) on upper side.

GILLS / SPORE PRINT

Free & white. Spotted red where damaged.
Spore Print: White (see how to take a spore print here).

HABITAT / SEASON

In coniferous and deciduous woodland. Summer & autumn. Very common.

EDIBILITY

Edible. Must be boiled before cooking. Discard water.

The Genus AMANITA (Amanitas): Characteristics to look out for:

• All have some sort of Volva – a cup-like/sack-like structure at the base of the stem which is the remnant of the universal veil.
• When very young, while still in the universal veil they can look egg-like.
• Most species are often covered with ‘spotted’ veil remnants. These sometimes ‘wash off’.
• Most species have white/whitish gills.
• Be extra careful in identification (examining volva and stem ring if present) as this genus contain some deadly species.

19 replies
  1. Varsha
    Varsha says:

    I don’t know if I would ever dare to eat any Amanita, even with the temptation that it is reputed to be rather tasty. But hats off to any one who does! Truly, they are the dare devil thrill seekers of the mycological-gastronomic world!

    Reply
  2. Vince Catt
    Vince Catt says:

    Hi

    Thanks your for your interesting and useful site. Could you please clarify conflicting information is this paragraph.

    “Another distinctive characteristic is that the large floppy ring on the stem—- has—- grooved (striate) markings on the top side. Armed with this information you can be sure of not confusing the Blusher with the very poisonous Panther Cap (Amanita pantherina). To mention key points, the Panther Cap has ‘pure’ white scales on it’s cap and—does not—- have striate markings on the ring at all.”

    Thanks
    Vince

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Vince

      I think I got the wording correct but I see what you mean. In the first part of the paragraph I mention the Blusher ‘having’ grooved markings on the ring. I then go on to talk about the Panther cap having ‘no markings’ on the ring, which is correct.

      Reply
    • Leon Camfield
      Leon Camfield says:

      I found a humble-but-gratefully-received two Blushers two years ago. I gave them a simple sauté with olive oil & garlic & had them on toast. It was as cliched as it was delicious :-)

      Reply
  3. Tommo
    Tommo says:

    Blushers are very tasty, I have never cooked them in water and discarded the water, but cooked them ‘dry’ and ensured the mushroom has been thoroughly cooked through before eating. I never had any ill effects, however I would advise anyone to take their own measure of caution when eating any wild fungi.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Thanks for the comment Tommo. Very interesting about cooking from ‘dry’. I was assuming you had to cook in water first (as I’ve never eaten any yet). Good info. Thanks.

      Reply
  4. Garry Rickard
    Garry Rickard says:

    There are a number of mushrooms where there are recommendations to boli in water first. This would be useful if there were water soluble toxins but this is not the case (as far as i know) with blushers and a number of other mushrooms. The important part is the heat, which is easier to ensure when cooking in water (thermal conductivity of water compared to air and all that stuff – if you want to get technical) but provided they are thoroughly cooked when frying or baked etc there should be no problem. I have eaten blushers probably more than a hundered times without a problem and they are very tatsy.

    Reply
  5. faybrotherhood
    faybrotherhood says:

    I have eaten them many times and I ain’t died yet! I am a big fan of them, especially of the fact the tend to grow where Boletes are proliferate, and as most shroomers tend to shy away from Amanita’s, they pick all the Boletes and leave the Blushers to me :)

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      I can’t wait to get my hands on some more, except I’ll be extra greedy, taking the Boletes AND the Blushers! (I will leave a few to drop their spores of course)…

      Reply
  6. DrZango
    DrZango says:

    Chop your blushers small and cook till very tender and you should have no problem. Some people love the taste, but I find a slight acridity that never fully appeals. Watch out for those pink bug holes and the striated ring and bulbous base and you should be fine. I tend to avoid the browner ones as they have gone over anyway.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Thanks for the cooking tip DrZango. As you say, it’s best to find the younger/fresher specimens to eat. They’ll be much better. And as of now (end of August), I have found so many of them. So keep a good lookout for them while out and about.

      Reply
  7. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    So the pantherina never has a large floppy ring with ridges on the top? I found several today, just to learn for now, not eating this time. What’s bothering me is some are bruising pink barely and some aren’t. They are all pink below the ring and on top of the pink they have brownish shred like fibers coming off. The flecks/blotches on the top were off white not white and have a faint good smell. And they have a large floppy ring with clearly defined ridges on top! What do you think?

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Jessica
      They sound more and more like The Blusher (Aminita rubescens). The Panthercap’s ring is tattered and has no striate grooves on it at all. The stem is pure white where as The Blusher is white above the ring and flushed with the cap colour below and often more reddish towards the base with scaly patches. Off white scales on the cap are typical. Depending on the age of the mushroom they can be off-white to red/pinkish-white rather than pure white. The smell of both the Panther Cap and Blusher are mild and indistinctive really. But check all the features and avoid if unsure.

      Reply

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