Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fairytale Fungus – The Fly Agaric fly-agaric-in-grass It’s always nice to come across one of the most loved of all toadstools. I’m of course talking of the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) from the Amanita genus. You’ve most probably seen it illustrated in your favourite childhood nursery rhyme or story – or even a so called ‘Mario’ video game (gotta keep up with the times). It was interesting to know it was initially used as a fly killer (hence the name I suppose). People would chop up the flesh and put chunks in milk on a saucer. This is irresistible to the horse fly and consequently they head straight towards their own demise. Poisoned, I believe. This mushroom is in the same family of the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) but is itself rarely fatal (you need to eat quite a few). It is not, as some people think, ‘THE’ Magic mushroom (or one of that kind) which are actually mushrooms of the Psilocybe family. But it is in fact a hallucinogenic. I, of course have never felt the urge to experiment – especially with the ones I’ve found (as you’ll see from the pictures). They all seem to be a snack stop for the bugs or are broken by passing animal traffic! Anyway, I don’t feel the need to pick them, as they look great staying where they are, whatever their condition. Another interesting point to anyone thinking of eating one of these (although I don’t recommend it) is that it is legal to ingest Amanita muscaria (in most countries), but illegal to ingest or have in your possesion Magic mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata) in most countries as well (in the UK at least Psilocybe semilanceata is a Class A drug). But if you do find any Fly Agarics, be sure to look out for any Ceps (Boletus edulis) hanging around, as they sometimes grow nearby. Red Toadstool with white spots - The Fly Agaric
The Fly Agaric’s Red cap with white spots (veil remnants). Note (bottom-right) that over time from weather etc. the cap can fade in colour and all the white veil remnats be washed off, as shown here. Amanita muscaria
Two young Fly Agarics covered with remnants of the white veil.