Autumn really has arrived and it’s well and truly fungi season! One of the most familar and striking of the toadstools out there at this time of year is the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).
Along with its striking looks this mushroom has an interesting history also. Now this fungus is a powerful intoxicant and hallucinogen. The Sami tribesmen of northern Scandinavia noticed their reindeers’ love for the mushroom, in fact the deer are so fond of it that in order to gather their herds the herders simply had to lay fragments of the stuff on the ground! Now the Sami may have noticed some strange behaviour from the reindeer and were curious as the Sami actually consume the mushroom for its powerful effects. After consumption the central nervous system is affected and the consumers’ muscles begin to convulse. Dizziness follows and then a deep sleep filled with vivid visions and upon waking being very elated and active. The bodies nerves are now very highly stimulated causing the slightest effort of movement to be highly exaggerated. So, be you a human or deer you will take a large leap just to clear the smallest obstacle! Perhaps if you take a really huge leap then you can fly!!
Despite its regular intake by certain peoples this is a dangerous and very poisonous fungus. The toxins that it contains are powerful enough that one can become intoxicated by drinking the urine of someone already intoxicated. (Another observation the Sami made from the reindeer). Death has been attributed to this mushroom and deadly poisonous is how this mushroom should be treated.
So look and revere! No eating or recycling the urine of someone who already has so!!
All photos – Ashley Watson.