Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)
How to Identify Fly Agarics
Edible – Debatable
Fly agaric, shamans’ gift, Walt Disney mushroom, fly fungi
Meaning of Botanical Name
Muscaria from the Latin Musca meaning to fly.
Poisoness when raw – can lead to hallucinations and severe vomiting.
Could be confused with
unique in colour and size
Cesars muchsroom – which does not have the distinct white spots on the cap.
Food Plant of….
Deer like to feast on this fungi, causing them to act strange.
Range and Distribution
Fly Agaric forms a symbiotic relationship with many trees, most specifically pine, spruce, fir, birch and cedar, so can be found in many woodlands.
Fly agaric is one of the most easily recognisable mushrooms, mainly from its use as walt disneys generic mushroom.
It’s cap, up to 20cm across, is scarlet red with spotted, conical, white fleece like scales. Starting hemispherical developing flat, the margins can appear striate.
Gills are crowded and white.
The white stipe, to 20cm tall, is cylindrical and hollow with a bulbous base which is encased in a volva, the stipe holds a connected skirt type ring and the stipe tends to be smooth above this ring and slightly scaly below.
Spores are white and oval.
Folklore, tall tales, and not so folklore
A man called big raven is said to have caught a whole whale, but was unable to haul the load back to his starving village. He appealed to the deity of existence who spoke back to him and told him to find and eat the white stalks with spotted scarlet hats, these are the spirits of strength. On doing so big raven was able to carry the haul back to his pleased family although he was unable to eat the kill due to severe vomiting and died of exhaustion. A story of one mans aided sacrifice for the sake of his village.
Traditionally small doses of the base of this fungi have been used to aid sore throats and general sickness. It has also been using in aiding sleeping and repetitive dream walking.
It has recorded use as a mood enhancer and anti-depresent.
It’s stated that slicing the fresh mushroom lengthwise to 1cm slices and placing in an oven at 110F oven until dry, will evaporate the muscarine and will convert the ibotenic acid into muscimol. This effect can be reversed if mixed with carbonated liquid.
Why use fly agaric if it takes this processing?
From an identification point of view, this fungi is unmistakable, it’s very common, abundant and a simple 10 minutes of pressure cooking results in a texture that is really good and a flavor that is subtle and very pleasant (please conduct your own research before pressure cooking and eating)