Sunday 17 October 2010

Today's Flowers #115 - Fly Agaric

This photograph shows several stages, from immature on the left to mature and old in the centre.
Toadstools are often depicted in children’s story books. They are associated with fairies and elves, gnomes and pixies and among the most attractive are the white-spotted bright red fungi known as Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Here is a developing fungus alongside one that has been partially eaten. I don't know what eats them - something with a strong stomach, obviously, or one specially adapted!
Fly Agaric is found under birch trees or in poor soil around pine trees. It begins its life above ground as a small rocket-shaped fungus but as it develops the cap expands and becomes flatter, measuring as much as six or seven inches. It can grow to a height of ten inches though I’ve yet to see one taller than about seven inches.
As they age the colour changes from vibrant red to orange or yellow. This mature fungus is changing colour.
Amanita muscaria is poisonous, though seldom fatal. It can cause violent intoxication – quite what that means, I’m not sure. Does it mean that the affected person becomes belligerent or just falling down, head-bangingly drunk? Or perhaps it means that the intoxication takes effect immediately with no intermediate tipsiness! Seriously, though, it is not a magic mushroom and should never be ingested. Admire its undoubted beauty but do not consume.
This large specimen has been partially consumed - or destroyed - showing the white gills.
Its common name of Fly Agaric refers to the fact that the caps used to be infused in milk as a way of killing flies. Now I have a vision of a line of flies sitting at a bar being invited to have ‘just one more for the road’ or of a reluctant fly being persuaded to ‘try this new drink’. Perhaps it was placed in a bowl looking alluringly like a flies’ Jacuzzi.

We saw many of these fungi during September and the early part of October but they have mainly disappeared now, although we saw a handful of fresh ones in Swinley Forest today.

Strictly speaking, these are not flowers, but they grow wild and they are beautiful!

To see more flowers, thanks to the Today's Flowers team who work so hard to organise this meme, please click here.


  1. Fascinating photos of these spotted toadstools! And enjoyed the information attached too!

  2. Beautiful! I love mushrooms and fungi. Some of my most favourite childhood memories are of walking in the local woods with my siblings and parents, a mushroom and fungi field guide, trying to find new types we hadn't seen before.

  3. They are definitely beautiful. Makes me think of children's books, and a character named Warty Bliggens the Toad in the book "Archy and Mehitabel" which I find uproariously funny no matter how many times I read it.
    I've seen lots of fungi in western Canada but never red mushrooms or toadstools. They are fabulous. Thanks, Janice!!

    Kay, Alberta

  4. Tack för den jättefina kommentaren i min blogg.
    Det värmde verkligen .
    Du har en massa underbara bilder sjäv.
    Flugsvampar är något som jag älskar att fota
    Jag har en del i min blogg i tidigare inlägg.
    Ha en riktig fin ny vecka och tack än en gång.

  5. They are pretty and I love the colors. Great information and post.

  6. an interesting post. these are all wonderfully captured. have a wonderful week.

  7. Excellent photos of the toadstools, wish we had colourful red ones like that.
    I have only seen them depicted in fairy tales and ceramic ones to put around houseplants.

  8. They ARE beautiful. We don't see these here where I live. Thanks for sharing these images.

  9. I don't think I have ever seen one of these except in picture books.

  10. I'm always impressed with people who know all the different kinds of mushrooms. I love to eat mushrooms, but would never attempt to gather any from the wild.

  11. Thank you all for your nice comments :-)
    I have no great knowledge of fungi - I always have to research them in reference books. In fact, Fly Agaric is the only one I can identify with confidence (and occasionally Trametes versicolor)

  12. I love their spots and their color
    thanks for all the info - it was really interesting :)

  13. Your research paid off Janice. This is a wonderfully informative post and your photos are lovely. Thanks so much.

  14. Always a treat to visit your site and today was a bonus! Great captures and interesting facts. I've missed you and can see you've been busy redecorating and enjoying the autumn.

  15. I've seen the word "agaric" before and had no idea what it was.

    Now I know!

    Thank you. They're lovely.


  16. Wow those are some pretty mushrooms - pretty enough to be flowers for sure.

  17. Wonderful photos and information. I have never seen anything like this in any of my forest walks but I am constantly looking for them. But maybe they are only found in your part of the world.

  18. I can't believe how colorful they are! I've never seen toadstools so vibrant. They make you want to eat them! All I've ever seen are the plain little brown ones. And I do eat those.

  19. These are great shots with great color and detail.

    Darryl and Ruth : )

  20. I don't think I'd dare taste any of these toadstools, but they certainly are pretty to look at.


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