|Amanita muscaria is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus of the genus Amanita in the order Agaricales. It was eaten as food after parboiling in North America, Europe, and Asia. In our time Amanita muscaria is known mainly for its hallucinogenic properties thanks to its main psychoactive constituent muscimol. Amanita muscaria was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by indigenous peoples of Siberia and has religious significance in their cultures.
Agaricus muscarius L. 1753 basionym
Amanitaria muscaria (L.) E.-J. Gilbert 1941
Venenarius muscarius (L.) Earle 1909
In many European languages the name of this mushroom originates from its ancient use as an insecticide against the housefly (English fly agaric, German Fliegenpilz, French amanite tue-mouches); the name of the species is also derived from the Latin musca meaning "a fly."
In Slavic languages the Russian word "мухомор" (Polish muchomor, Bulgarian myxomopka, Czech muchomurka, etc.) became the name of the genus Amanita.
Description (Amanita muscaria):
The cap measures from 8 to 20 cm. Its shape at first is hemispherical and then opens to flat. The skin is bright red, of various richness of color, shiny, covered with white warts; striation is noticeable along the margins of the open cap.
Flesh is white, light orange or light yellow under the skin, free of odor, with a sweetish taste.
Gills are 0.8 to 1.2 cm wide, white to cream, crowded, free; intermediate small gills are numerous.
Stipe is cylindrical, 8 – 20 cm high and 1 – 2.5 cm in diameter, white or yellowish, with bulbous base, hollow in mature mushrooms.
Veil remnants. Warts on skin of cap cottony, white, may drop off. Membranous ring in upper part of stipe, pendant, persistent, margins often uneven, upper surface sometimes slightly wrinkled. Volva adnate, multilayered, very fragile, has the form of several rings of whitish warts near base of stipe.
Spore print whitish, spores 9 x 6.5 microns, ellipsoidal, smooth.
Skin color can be of various hues, from orange red to bright red, fading with age. Warts are rarely absent on young mushrooms and may be washed off of old ones by rain. Gills sometimes acquire a light yellow hue.
The form Amanita muscaria var. formosa with a lighter yellow or yellow orange cap is widespread in northeastern North America.
Ecology and distribution:
It forms mycorrhizial associations primarily with birch and spruce. It grows on acid soils, a common mushroom in temperate climate forests of the Northern Hemisphere; it is found in mountains up to the timber line.
Season summer to autumn.|