Fundamentals of Fungi: Fly Agaric Spectacular

This fall has been very, very kind to fungi. It’s been warmer on average most days this last October, but also good and damp. I’ve seen lots of very nice shrooms during our walks, but the fly agaric seems really enthusiastic. I don’t remember seeing ones this big in the past.

Image shows a round red fly agaric cap, with a few pale ones beginning to push through the dead oak leaves. My black-sneakered foot is in the photo for scale.
Look at the size of these things!

For reference, my feet are kinda huge. I wear a women’s size 10. Dat one big shroom.

Image shows a side view of the same fly agaric mushroom. There's a Blistex tube leaning against it, and a baby fly agaric shroom beside it.
Big shroom plus bebbe shroom.

The Blistex® tube is just under 2¾ inches. Ja. Big shroom.

Most fly agaric seem to come in red round there, but there are a few blondies. Here’s a little blonde baby shroom:

Image shows a small fly agaric mushroom with a couple of holes chewed into the cap and stem.
Young blonde fly agaric.

Those little holes something’s eaten into them makes me think of gnome homes. These are the best mushrooms for gnomic living. I think this is the formosa variation, which seem rather common around here.

Here’s a pretty awesome grown-up specimen of the classic variety, which looks like a jaunty tilted sombrero or sedge hat.

Image shows a red-orange fly agaric whose flaring conical cap is tilted on its stem. The Blistex tube is leaning against the stem for scale.
A jaunty shroom.

When you look at it from above, it kinda looks like a big pizza.

View of previous shroom from above. The peak isn't visible. There's a slash in the cap, looking like something either damaged it or that it split as it was growing.
Big shroom cap.

They’re really adorable when they’re little. They’re sorta like golfballs on thick tees, pushing up through the ground and leaf litter.

Image shows a very young shroom. The white warts are very close together, with just narrow streaks of red filling in where they're pulling apart.
Wee baby red fly agaric.

If I’m understanding the article on fly agaric correctly, these little white warts are remnants of something called a “universal veil,” which the fetal shroom is wrapped up in before it bursts out and morphs into a mushroom.

Image is a cropped version of the previous, focusing on the warts. They look sort of like little popcorn polygons, with a white fibrous fuzz clinging to the red parts around their edges.
Closeup of the warts, for your detail-viewing pleasure.

Don’t ask me why I find all these textures fascinating. I just do.

One of them had been pulled out of the ground, so I was able to have a close-up look.

Image shows me holding a fly agaric by the stem. The cap is a sphere; it hasn't opened up yet.
Cut off in the prime of its youth. Sigh.

This is what it might have become, had it not been so very rudely removed from the ground, and as long as the lawn mowers don’t come through soon.

Image shows two maturing fly agaric. They're still rounded, not having opened all the way yet.
Yes, they look like lollipops. No, you shouldn’t lick them.

And here’s a lovely little family.

Image shows one fully opened fly agaric to the right, with many others in various phases of growth in the center and left of the photo.
A sweet family of fly agaric.

Further down the way, someone else had decided to pull up a few shrooms, which gives us a great chance to see the gills.

Image shows a fully-opened fly agaric shroom lying on its cap, showing the underside with its lovely white gills. Beside it is a younger, not-opened fly agaric, showing the rounded bottom of the stem that would have been underground.
Looks like it was staged for curious folk like us, don’t it just?

I’m kind of a horrible scientist, because I can’t bear to rip them up like this. I’ve seen other people stop by to enjoy them, and don’t want to ruin their fun. Unlike the people who destroyed these. But even though a few are pulled up every year, a lot stay standing, which means that the people around here are actually considerate about their wanton destruction. Odd, that.

That’ll probably be about it for fly agaric this year. Weren’t they magnificent?

{advertisement}
Fundamentals of Fungi: Fly Agaric Spectacular

7 thoughts on “Fundamentals of Fungi: Fly Agaric Spectacular

  1. 4

    I think “toadstool” is just a colloquialism, not a scientific distinction. At any rate, it redirects to “mushroom” in Wikipedia. A lot of people think “toadstools” applies to the poisonous ones.

    Fungus Among Us!

  2. 5

    If it makes you feel better, remember that the mushroom is just the fruiting body of a fungus in the ground. So you’re not pulling out a tree, you’re just picking an apple.

  3. 6

    Awesome. While not exactly uncommon they truely are a magical sight.

    The spots are are indeed remnants of when it bursts out of the volva.

    https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSadIK17ohaL9kgfleHT0jtNMxLNggCaSQx7TZlHxae5mRXEr7_

    So if there was heavy rain they could be washed off and the mushroom wuoudl just be red.
    This is quite common in the amanita’s, as are the spots themselves.
    Here’s a panther cap.

    https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTdaEeCwztm18Mmt8IaJNjGDA5xhOgrswRn9-l1xLfLukzlKRjx-g

    And here’s a blusher.

    http://www.mushroomdiary.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/blusher-darker-colour.jpg

    Sorry about going on but this time of year especially, I don’t need much of an excuse to talk about the magical world of fungi.

Comments are closed.