You may have seen these little guys around your local area. The fruiting bodies (the part above ground) often emerge from their mycelial mat in the vicinity of trees (such as pine, oak or and birch) after a period of rain.
In Australia, Aminata muscaria (or the Fly Agaric) is an introduced species that is slowly spreading and displacing native mushrooms.
I have often seen them in my own travels.
Yes… this is a very interesting mushroom.
Despite having a bad rap as being highly toxic because it belongs to the Amanita family (think death cap mushroom), muscaria does not contain amatoxins but instead contains the two main active chemicals. Muscimol, which has psychotropic effects and Ibotenic acid, which causes nausea and vomiting. Ibotenic acid can be converted to Muscimol by boiling or drying (a process called decarboxylation).
This interesting video explores this mushroom and its fascinating entwinements with:
- The Smurfs and Mario Brothers.
- The whole Santa Clause mythology.
- Siberian shamen drinking reindeer urine.
- Potential medicinal and healing properties (if used correctly).
And if you find that interesting you can watch this follow up video that explores the medicinal uses of this mushroom in more detail.
NOTE: I do not recommend you go off and boil up a collection of Aminata muscaria for recreational purposes. As with all psychadelic compounds correct preparation, dosage and theraputic guidance are essential.
Photo by Hans Veth