Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is a poisonous mushroom from the Amanita family (Amanitaceae). It grows quite abundantly from August to November, in both coniferous, and deciduous forests. It is widespread throughout the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere but also in North Africa and Australia.
It has a distinctive appearance with a bright red cap that is covered with white spots. The stem is white and cylindrical, narrower at the top, and wider at the bottom. It has a prominent ring of white or yellowish color in the upper third.
Fly agaric is the most beautiful mushroom in our forests. Almost every child knows it, as it often appears in story books as a decorative element in illustrations of forest life.
It has a long history of use in traditional shamanic practices of such cultures as the Sami in Northern Europe and the Ainu in Japan. It was believed to have spiritual and healing properties and was used in rituals to communicate with the spirit world.
Despite its traditional use, fly agaric is a poisonous mushroom that can cause serious illness or even death if ingested in large quantities. It contains such toxins as muscimol and ibotenic acid, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and hallucinations.
In the past, its fruiting bodies were soaked in milk and then used as a fly catcher.
Fly agaric is an important part of many forest ecosystems since it creates a symbiotic relationship with trees and helps break down organic matter in the soil. It is also a food source for some animals, such as reindeer and squirrels.