Amanita Muscaria - Toxic
Amanita Muscaria mushrooms.
This iconic, fairytale mushroom has been used for religious, recreational and even food for millennia, although it is mildly toxic. Also known as ‘fly agaric’ from it’s reported use in the middle ages to kill flies. Today, it’s found all over the world, creating a symbiotic relationship with it’s host tree, colonising and extending the host trees root system. You can’t grow Amanita but only find it in the wild.
Amanita is a genus that contains many different species, including edible, as well as some of the most poisonous mushrooms on earth, including death caps, which cause over 90% of all mushroom eating fatalities. BEWARE. I never touch this mushroom and emphasise this to children. It is not a giant lolly.
This is NOT a mushroom to forage for (I’m not encouraging it’s use, just passing on some facts).
Whilst I’ve read reports of A. Muscaria being eaten by Italian villages during WWII when there was nothing else to eat, there was a careful detoxifying & cooking process involved, and those were desperate times. There are many far more suitable and less toxic edibles out there.
Amanita’s are better known for their sacred uses, especially with the Shamans and villagers of far flung villages in Siberia, where the reindeer also seek out these colorful fungi. There are some reports of Shamans eating the mushrooms, then as a conduit for channelling the mushrooms divine power the villagers would drink the Shamans urine. Then there is collecting and drinking reindeer urine, who are the originals when it comes to getting mushroom highs from pee. Wild reindeer are known to eat mushrooms and then drink their own pee in the snow. This might sound bizarre but the urine actually gives more potent effects, after the body has filtered out some less desirable effects.
Now that’s just interesting tid bits about this iconic, fairytale mushroom. Please don’t rush out & consume it! As with all foraging you need to be 100% sure of the ID of any plant or fungi, as well as how to safely gather and prepare it.
I highly recommend learning about mushrooms from a real live human (not the internet).