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Fly agaric

Fly agaric

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is an easy species to see and identify in the New Forest.

The New Forest is an area of acid soils and dry heathland and this is where the ubiquitous birch trees are likely to be growing. This fungus has a symbiotic association with these particular trees, which is beneficial to both tree and fungus.

They may be solitary, or grow in small or sometimes very large groups.

The size of the actual mushroom may occasionally be as large as a dinner plate when mature and the cap fully expanded, but the average size for both cap width and stem height is about 20cms. The stem is white and thick with a bulbous base, called a volva, and a white pendulous ring with a scaly edge to it.

In medieval times the mushroom was crushed and mixed with milk, put on a saucer for troublesome flies to drink and stupefy themselves. This is the origin of its name – Fly Agaric – Agaric being a popular name for mushrooms and toadstools of this Order.

Fly agaric mushrooms amanita muscaria

ID Tip

ID Tip

When fresh and unweathered, it is the classic children's elves and goblins storybook toadstool. However in reality, the redness sometimes fades to a more orangey hue with age, and the white 'speckles' on the cap sometimes wash off partially, or even completely, in heavy rain, revealing a plain smooth red cap.

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