Everyone Loves Amanitas

Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria)
Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria)

You have to admit that the Amanitas are distinctive. One of the easiest to recognize is the striking red and white Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria). This mushroom is the classic “toad stool,” and considered both poisonous and hallucinogenic. As Arora puts it, the Fly Amanita is “esteemed by both maggots and mystics” but he goes on to add that it isn’t really recommended.

The main active toxin in A. muscaria is ibotenic acid that is converted by the body into muscimol. The effects of eating the mushroom are extremely variable and not worth the risk. A. muscaria also contains small amounts of muscarine which can cause excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases lead to heart or respiratory failure.

Eating this mushroom is not recommended – don’t try this at home or anywhere else!

The common name Fly Agaric comes from the historical use of combining the mushroom with milk and using the mixture to stupefy flies. A. muscaria is also able to concentrate vanadium (a rare metal used to add tensile strength to steel) from the soil. As far as I know, no commercial attempt has yet been made to grow these amanitas and process them for their vanadium!

Whether you covet this mushroom for its hallucinogenic reputation or its ability to stun flies it certainly is a distinctive mushroom that is best appreciated for its beauty alone.