Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Toxic Beauty

Fly Agaric, March 2008. Ajr
The distinctive red and white spotted caps of the Fly Agaric toadstool (Amanita muscaria) always catch my eye in autumn – usually under pine or birch trees. Their ‘fairytale’ association with garden gnomes seems to have encouraged people think they’re harmless. They’re not. They belong to the deadly Amanita genus and they contain Ibotenic acid and muscimol, which cause hallucinations, vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and occasionally, in extreme cases, death. As they mature they fade from bright red to orange. I took the ants’eye view with this one, bypassing the red spotted cap for the beautiful creamy white gills beneath.

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