A Fairy-Tale Mushroom

My camera battery died just after we found the dragonfly, so when I found a really cool mushroom on the hike out, I had to beg my coworker Pete to take a photo of it and email it to me. Thanks, Pete! (The mushroom had already been kicked over, thus why I am holding it. I never would have broken it off myself.)

I believe this is either Amanita muscaria or Amanita flavoniconia. Amanita muscaria, commonly known as fly amanita or fly agaric, is the classic fairy-tale toadstool, red with yellow-white spots. Another coworker who saw me looking at it warned, “Don’t eat that!”, as though I needed told – obviously it’s a bad idea to put a strange, brightly-colored wild mushroom in your mouth! According to Wikipedia, though, deaths from A. muscaria are rare, and it actually used to be eaten as food in some parts of the world after being parboiled from water. It is, however, hallucinogenic.

I feel like I know far less about mushrooms than I do, say, plants or insects or birds, but I’d like to remedy that. In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by picturing a gnome sitting on the one above…

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