Field of Science

Pretty, but toxic, mushroom

This is an easy mushroom to identify, Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric. They are big (the cap can easily be 15 cm in diam when spread) and very handsome, and a large number of them were arising in a grove of trees with which  the fungus has a mycorrhizal association. The red-orange-yellow cap flecked with white patches is very distinctive. The rest of the mushroom is white and although not seen here, a skirt-like veil surrounds the stem and the stem sits in a basal cup. The spore color is white although you should not judge this by the gill color. They are very toxic and while they have been used as a hallucinogen in some cultures, and maybe even worshiped as the god Soma, they are way too toxic to experiment with although as can be seen in the picture, some one took a nibble. These were near a walking path, but plants let alone fungi just don't register with most people. They missin' out. 

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