27th September 2014

Fly Agaric are probably the best known fungi or toadstools, and widely known to be poisonous. In the Aminata family, they are related to the much more dangerous Death Cap and Destroying Angel fungi! Fly Agaric are not quite so toxic, but can make you very sick. They have been used in the past, in Europe, broken into milk, as an insecticide- it has recently been found that they contain isotonic acid which is both attractive to, and toxic to insects!. Fly Agaric also have a long history, especially in Siberia, of being used as an hallucinogen for religious and shamanistic rituals and Patrick Harding, the local naturalist, makes a good case in his lovely book, ‘Mushroom Miscellany’, for their link to the Father Christmas myth, the red and white suit, and the story of him ‘flying’. The spots, and the white ‘skirt’ on the stalk of fully grown specimens are the remains of a white cover or ‘veil’ which covers the fungi as it emerges from the ground. Like many fungi, this one is mycorrhyzal, meaning it has a mutually beneficial relationship with the trees it grows near (it particularly favours birch). It helps the tree to absorb minerals and water, while the tree helps the fungus access carbohydrates. Conditions: Another lovely, still autumn day, with sun and light cloud. Temperature: Max 17- Min 11 C

A newly emerged Fly Agaric toadstool, with the remains of the white veil showing as the classic white spots.

A newly emerged Fly Agaric toadstool, with the remains of the white veil showing as the classic white spots.

Fly Agaric, showing the gills under the cap.

Fly Agaric, showing the gills under the cap.

Mature Fly Agaric in the shade of the trees they have a symbiotic relationship with

Mature Fly Agaric in the shade of the trees they have a symbiotic relationship with, showing the ‘skirts on the stalks.

Fly Agaric are often nibbled- it is thought the hallucinogen's may affect the creatures that eat them

Fly Agaric are often nibbled- it is thought the hallucinogen’s may affect the creatures that eat them

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