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Amanitaceae: The Deadly Amanita Family
About ninety-percent of all fatalities from eating mushrooms are the result of amanitas, so these are the most important mushrooms to learn first. The amanitas are characterized by a "universal veil" that completely envelopes the young mushrooms, giving them an egg-like shape similar to a puffball. The veil eventually breaks and the cap spreads out into the more familiar toadstool shape. You have to cut across each little puffball to make sure there are no gills inside--otherwise your life might just go puff before your eyes! I was sure shocked the first time I saw an amanita in this stage, because I too was sure I had a puffball.
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Thomas J. Elpel
in a Day