|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|A little montage showing the 3 stages of growth of the wonderful Fly Agaric. My apologies for the state of them as they were all I could find and had been partly eaten. I do hope it doesn't spoil it too much.|
location: North America, Europe
fungus colour: Red or redish or pink
normal size: 5-15cm
cap type: Convex to shield shaped
stem type: Ring on stem, Volva on stem
spore colour: White, cream or yellowish
habitat: Grows in woods, Grows on the ground
Amanita muscaria (L. ex Fr.) Hooker Fly Agaric, Amanite tue-mouches, Fausse Oronge Roter Fliegenpilz Cap 8–20cm across, globose or hemispherical at first then flattening, bright scarlet covered with distinctive white pyramidal warts which may be washed off by rain leaving the cap almost smooth and the colour fades. Stem 80–180×10–20mm, white, often covered in shaggy volval remnants as is the bulbous base, the white membranous ring attached to the stem apex sometimes becoming flushed yellow from the pigment washed off the cap. Flesh white, tinged red or yellow below the cap cuticle, Taste pleasant, smell faint. Gills free, white. Spore print white. Spores broadly ovate, nonamyloid, 9.5–10.5×7–8µ. Habitat usually with birch trees, Season late summer to late autumn. Common. Deadly poisonous. It contains many different toxins see below. Distribution, America and Europe.
This is one of the easiest species to recognize and describe, and consequently its properties have been well documented for centuries. The common name Fly Agaric comes from the practice of breaking the cap into platefuls of milk, used since medieval times to stupefy flies. It is a strong hallucinogen and intoxicant and was used as such by the Lapps. In such cases the cap is dried and swallowed without chewing. The symptoms begin twenty minutes to two hours after ingestion. The central nervous system is affected and the muscles of the intoxicated person start to pull and twitch convulsively, followed by dizzines and a death-like sleep. During this stage the mushrooms are often vomited but nevertheless the drunkenness and stupor continue. While in this state of stupor, the person experiences vivid visions and on waking is usually filled with elation and is physically very active. This is due to the nerves being highly stimulated, the slightest effort of will producing exaggerated physical effects, e.g. the intoxicated person will make a gigantic leap to clear the smallest obstacle. The Lapps may have picked up the habit of eating the Fly Agaric through observing the effects of the fungus on reindeer, which are similarly affected. Indeed, they like it so much that all one has to do to round up a wandering herd is to scatter pieces of Fly Agaric on the ground. Another observation the Lapps made from the reindeer was that the intoxicating compounds in the fungus can be recycled by consuming the urine of an intoxicated person. The effects of consuming this species are exceedingly unpredictable; some people remain unaffected while others have similar, or different, symptoms to those above, and at least one death is attributed to A. muscaria. This unpredictability is due to the fungus containing different amounts of the toxins ibotenic acid and muscimol according to season, method of cooking and ingestion, as well as the subject’s state of mind. Ibotenic acid is mostly concentrated in the coloured skin of the cap. This very unstable compound rapidly degrades on drying to form muscimol which is five to ten times more potent. Traditionally, where A. muscaria is used as an inebriant, it is the dried cap which is taken.
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