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Mushroom kits

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Amanita muscaria is one of the most recognized mushrooms in the world, frequently photographed and illustrated, it’s the typical mushroom seen in fairy tale books and movies. It gets its common name “Fly agaric” from being used as an insecticide by being mixed in with a bowl of milk to kill flies.

Amanita muscaria is generally considered both a poisonous mushroom and “magic mushroom”, as it can contain chemicals that cause psychoactive effects when ingested.

Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria photographed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia,  Canada

Identification

The fly agaric is one of the easiest mushrooms to identify when mature. As the mushroom starts growing, it emerges from the ground resembling a small white egg. At this point, it is difficult to identify as other members of the Amanita family will emerge from the ground looking the same, including the deadly poisonous ones like the death cap.

As the mushroom grows, the cap will show an orange-yellow skin under the white surface of the veil top that covers it. The cap will eventually break through the veil, showing a yellow-orange to bright red surface. The white shots, commonly called warts on the surface of the cap are remnants of the veil.

When A. muscaria is fully grown, the cap can be anywhere from 6 to 24 cm in diameter and it will keep the yellow-orange to bright red colors seen in its earlier stage. The cap will commonly grow to a saucer like shape when fully developed. The white spots can sometimes be mostly missing on mature Amanita’s due to heavy rains washing them off. The gills are not attached to the stem, clustered and white in color.

The stem is white, tapering to a base into a bulb like shape. It’s usually 6-17 cm in length and 1.5-4 cm thick. Partial remnants of the veil can be found on the stems surface.

The spore print of Amanita muscaria is white and you should therefore use darker paper when taking it.

Fly agaric cap
Some Amanita muscaria's can be much lighter in color than the common bright red

Habitat

A. muscaria is found throughout the forested areas of the world, fruiting in late summer to early winter, depending on the climate. This fungus needs to form a symbiotic partnership with trees to grow. It can regularly be found under or near spruce, fir, birch, and cedar trees. Amanita muscaria seems to especially prefer pine trees.

This mushroom is normally found in loose groups, sometime in clusters of 2-4 mushrooms.

Notes

The Fly Agaric can contain the psychoactive compounds: ibotenic acid, muscimol, muscazone and muscarine and is deemed a “magic mushroom”, although the psychoactive chemicals are different than those contained in psychedelic mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus, and should not be confused.

The psychoactive compounds are also considered to be poisonous and can produce nausea, drowsiness, sweating, auditory and visual distortions, euphoria, relaxation, ataxia, and loss of equilibrium. These effects can vary greatly depending on the amount consumed and the individual. Historically, deaths have been reported, but the North American Mycological Association has reported there are no reliably documented fatalities in the past 100 years.

Quantities of the psychoactive compounds found in Amanita muscaria can fluctuate significantly (10 fold or more) depending on the season and geographical location of the mushrooms.

It should also be noted that many have stated that this mushroom can be made edible by boiling it and discarding the liquid, as the toxins are water soluble and will be removed with the water.

History

Fly agaric has one of the richest and most diverse histories, when comes to man’s interactions with mushrooms.

It been used for shamanic practices, possibility dating as early as 10 000 BC by some accounts.

In Siberia, it was extensively used in religious practices by the indigenous people. Some tribes would drink the urine of shaman, after he consumed the mushroom. The urine would contain the psychoactive chemicals and the psychoactive effects would then be passed along to the rest of the tribe.

It has also been reported that the rain deer of the Siberian area where attracted to the mushroom. The local people note the intoxicated behaviour and slaughter the animals to achieve the psychoactive effects by eating the meat.

In India, Amanita muscaria is widely accepted to be the mysterious brew Soma, written about in ancient Indian texts, between 1700–1100 BC.

Amanita muscaria has also long been a part of Christian winter and Christmas celebrations. The dried fly agaric bulb was once used as decorations on Christmas trees. Today, replica amanita muscaria decorations can still be found on Christmas trees and wreaths, while the mushrooms image can be found on many Christmas and New Year’s cards.

Recently, it has been suggested that the red and white colors of Christmas and Santa Clause were based after the colors of the mushroom.

Lastly, it’s thought that the effects experienced by Alice eating the mushroom in Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are based after the psychoactive effects of Amanita muscaria.

Amanita muscaria Cluster

More Photographs of Amanita muscaria in my Gallery

Comments   

 
#11 Where in Oregon??Guest 2013-11-02 14:42
@Ron

Where in Oregon are the amanitas fruiting last year around nov. 30th? I would like to know because I am traveling through oregon up to washington to hunt them right now.I was wondering if anyone could point me in a direction of the best places to look?

Thanks

Joey
 
 
#10 curiousGuest 2013-10-27 23:45
hey im getting some amanitas already dried and sliced and I was wondering how could I identify them So that I know for sure they are what they say they are thanks
 
 
#9 Eating Amanita muscariaPsynaut 2012-12-03 08:36
Quoting Ron:
So I know for sure that this mushroom(fly agaric) grows all over the place here in Oregon, I have looked up infor mation on these, but no one really says you can eat them, or how to go about it. they must be in season right now because they are poping up everywhere. what should i do? just steer clear or give it a shot?

Well, people have eating them since possibly 5000BC. But only you can decide if you want to try eating them or not … Do your research first though. There’s a lot books on the subject. I would start with Wikipedia and Erowid go from there. On a side note, it’s been said from a lot of people that the ones from North America are either not active or produce unpleasant effects compared to the ones from Siberia, where they are traditionally used for their psychoactive effects. I once watched two buddies on a camping trip on Vancouver Island try tea made Amanita muscaria with no resulting effects but nausea.
 
 
#8 hellonev 2012-12-01 04:20
i realize this post is abit out dated but i live in nova- scotia and i would really like to know where i should look for this?
 
 
#7 They grow all over my neighborhoodRon 2012-11-30 08:11
So I know for sure that this mushroom(fly agaric) grows all over the place here in Oregon, I have looked up infor mation on these, but no one really says you can eat them, or how to go about it. they must be in season right now because they are poping up everywhere. what should i do? just steer clear or give it a shot?
 
 
#6 Florida Amanita MuscariaPsynaut 2012-10-04 22:19
Quoting Xabrinna:
Could you find these mushrooms in Florida?


They are said to grow in Florida in late fall and winter.
 
 
#5 Amanita muscaria IDPsynaut 2012-10-04 22:15
Quoting Caroline:
Hi there! I read your blog with great interest. I am currently living in Wales and in the upland pine forestry plantations there are hundreds of red mushrooms with white stems. A local has told me they are fly agaric but they have no white spots on them. They are the right colour and size and in the right environment... Is there anything else they could be? I have been trying to research but am clueless...
Thanks for your help in advance, I look forward to your response..


I would have to see pictures to help you ID it. Post them in forums and we'll see if we can give you a ID. Also, taking a spore print is a good idea.
 
 
#4 Fl?Xabrinna 2012-10-02 20:55
Could you find these mushrooms in Florida?
 
 
#3 MissCaroline 2012-09-30 14:11
Hi there! I read your blog with great interest. I am currently living in Wales and in the upland pine forestry plantations there are hundreds of red mushrooms with white stems. A local has told me they are fly agaric but they have no white spots on them. They are the right colour and size and in the right environment... Is there anything else they could be? I have been trying to research but am clueless...
Thanks for your help in advance, I look forward to your response..
 
 
#2 Re:Psynaut 2011-06-24 08:01
Quoting Nico:
Hi. Great that I found your blog. I'm searching for fly agaric. Where is the best place to go? Is there such an arrangement as ayahuasca where you can go and meet the curandero and take it in groups?

Where to find Amanita muscaria really depends on where you live.
I have never heard of groups sessions using this mushrooms, but I would think they exist somewhere.