October is Amanita muscaria (Fly Amanita) time!




 Whether you are an experienced mushroom enthusiast or never give mushrooms a second thought, it is impossible to not notice this most spectacular mushroom in our area: the Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria).  As the rains of mid-October commence, this fungus puts forth its strikingly colorful fruiting bodies.  Whitish to yellow as they first emerge from leaf litter on the forest floor (or urban park areas!), the caps turn scarlet to orange with white warts speckling the upper surface. These flecks are the remains of the universal veil-the covering that protects the mushroom and its spores until it pokes its head above ground-which disintegrates as the mushroom matures.  This mushroom has become part of our culture and lore for centuries and is even used in shamanic traditions of peoples in the far north.  It is commonly known as poisonous, however some aficionados seek them out for their psychoactive effects.  Fly amanita contains a compound called ibotenic acid that is poisonous to many individuals...a personal anecdote: back in high school one of my teachers sampled this amanita looking for a good high and had to be hospitalized and nearly died!  

So...view this beautiful mushroom but do not eat!  There is plenty to appreciate in just looking!


Ed

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