Misapplied name: Amanita inaurata Gillet
Cap 4-14.0 cm broad, convex, becoming plano-convex to plano-depressed; margin striate, at first decurved, eventually plane to raised; surface subviscid when moist, smooth, uniformly pale grey-brown when young, occasionally streaked darker in age; universal veil fragments consisting of scattered whitish, cottony-felty patches, in dry weather drying down to thin appressed layer, sometimes developing tawny-brown tones; context 0.5-1.0 cm thick, white, firm, unchanging, to slightly tawny-brown where cut; odor when fresh, mild, in age unpleasant, fishy; taste mild.
Gills free to slightly adnexed, close, moderately broad, not forked, white, becoming cream, edges grey-brown; lamellulae up to two-seried.
Stipe 5-15 cm long, 1.0-3.0 cm thick, more or less equal, stuffed to hollow in age; surface whitish with conspicuous overlying grey fibrils; volva moderately thick, white, felty-membranous, sheathing, breaking up with elongation of the stipe, leaving grey-edged patches and partial bands on the lower third, often forming a simple collar-like cup at the base; partial veil absent; stipe and volva sometimes discoloring tawny-brown in age.
Spores 10-12 x 8.5-10µ, ovoid to subglobose, smooth, thin-walled, inamyloid; spore print white.
Solitary to scattered under Liveoak (Quercus agrifolia) and Monterey pine (Pinus radiata); fruiting from mid to late winter.
Edible, at least in small amounts according to Greg Wright; untried locally.
Amanita protecta is recognized by a grey-brown striate cap with white to ochre-colored universal veil fragements, grey-bordered gills, absence of a partial veil, and a stipe zoned with grey fibrils. Characteristic of this species is a fragile, sheathing type volva that at maturity typically crumbles leaving patches on the lower stipe and a short collar-like cup at the base. Similar in appearance and sometimes confused with Amanita protecta are A. vaginata, A. pachycolea, and A. constricta. Differences in the nature of the universal veil help to differentiate these species. In Amanita vaginata the cap typically lacks universal veil patches while the volva is membranous, sac-like, not fragmenting as in A. protecta. Amanita pachycolea is similar to A. vaginata, but usually larger, more robust, with a browner cap and a relatively thick membranous, sac-like volva that tends to discolor rusty-brown. Most likely to be confused with Amanita protecta is A. constricta. It also has a greyish-brown cap with veil patches, and an adherent type volva, but the apical or limb portion of the stipe flares conspicuously from the stipe.