Fly agaric

Poisonous Poisonous
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

A beautiful and photogenic mushroom, however toxic.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Fly agaric
Scientific Name Amanita muscaria
Season Start Aug
Season End Dec
Average Mushroom height (CM) 20
Average Cap width (CM) 25
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Cap

Hemispherical at first when it can sometimes be more orangey than red, then opening flat with a bright red cap covered in white to yellow scales which are the remains of the volvic sack. The scales can be washed off during rain to leave a smooth red cap.

Gills

Gills white to cream, fairly crowded and not joined to the stem.

Stem

Appearing from a volva (a bulbous sack like structure) the stem is white with shaggy remains of the volva sticking to it, it also has a skirt higher up the stem.

Skirt

Large, pendulous white/off white skirt, usually with yellow edges.

Volva

Has a bulbous volva with shaggy rings of scales around it rather than any guttering or sac like structure.

Flesh

White.

Habitat

Birch woods in particular but can be found in other mixed woodland.

Possible Confusion

The Blusher, pictured,  – where damaged shows pink red blushing,  has a striated ring and no striations on the margin of cap. While toxic raw it’s edible when cooked.

The Grey Spotted Amanita – close relative of the Blusher, and fairly similar to it, without blushing and usually greyer colours. Although often not considered toxic it is not recommended.

The Panther Cap – very closely related to the Fly Agaric with a darker brown cap. It contains exactly the same toxins as the Fly Agaric, but in more variable and usually higher concentrations.

The Jewelled Amanita – also closely related to the Fly Agaric and Panther Cap, it could pass as a yellowish Fly Agaric (yellow forms of Fly Agaric exist). It might contain the same toxins as the other two but we couldn’t find enough reliable information. Like the Panther Cap some books report it as very poisonous, it is wiser to avoid it.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

Savoury

Frequency

Common.

Other Facts

The common name of this mushroom comes from the medieval practice of breaking up the caps and leaving them in milk to stupefy flys. This mushroom also has hallucinogenic properties which the Lapps have used traditionally in ceremonies and even to round up reindeer who seem to love them.

Considered very toxic in most modern field guides, and inclusively in our Wild Food UK guide and video, however in a distant past it was frequently consumed in parts of Europe, Asia and North America after preparation. Scientific studies show that there are methods to efficiently remove the toxins and render it safe for consumption, which explains its use in the past. This is something we weren’t aware of until recently and doesn’t seem to be common knowledge among modern foragers.

COMMENTS

3 comments for Fly agaric

  1. Matthew says:

    I have seen some of these at Owlbeech Woods in Horsham West Sussex. We have been cutting down Silver Birch trees and we came across these!

  2. john heaver says:

    I came across some in mixed woodland this August bank holiday in Wasdale (Lake District).
    Interestingly in regard to the previous post I grew up in Horsham where Owlbeech woods were my childhood playground….small world indeed!!!

  3. Alison Williams says:

    Came back from holiday to find a dozen of these in my urban back garden in Mansfield, Notts.

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