I’ve been wistfully liking other bloggers’ pictures of the type of toadstool you see in fairy tale illustrations (orangey-red fly agarics with white spots) while wishing my woodland searches had uncovered one.
The woods are rich in fungi: pale, greyish, beige, brown, pinkish, purplish and black ones growing singly, clustered in their hundreds along fallen logs or running the whole height of dying trees. I’d seen alarmingly slimy ones, shiny ones, pert ones, shelf types, toadstools like pontefract cakes and a lot that looked like small potatoes but any flashes of orange or red had turned out to be berries cast down from trees.
At one point I discovered the brown form of fly agaric toadstool pictured above. You can’t take my word for this as I am no expert, but I suspect it may be the deadly poisonous Amanita pantherina, the panther cap or false blusher. Another possibility is the similar-looking blusher, Amanita rubescens, named because the white flesh turns pink where bruised. An interesting find, but not half as exciting to me as seeing a red one.
Several photographers kindly gave me tips to help steer me in the right direction, looking under mature birch trees being the main recommendation.
Happy days! My wonderful sister saved the day by unearthing this one at the base of a pine tree, near the place where she’d found a fairy ring earlier in the year. Could there be magic going on?
I believe this is a fairly young Amanita muscaria. As the toadstool ages, its cap will gradually flatten as shown in Derrick’s post. We couldn’t find another, but it’ll do me. There were some birches close by in an area of mixed woodland.
Needless to say, I didn’t want to pick it and certainly not to eat it as they are also listed as poisonous. The name fly agaric comes from the folk tradition of using the toadstools as fly killer – something I do not recommend you try at home. A woodland creature had taken a couple of round bites out of it, so we have to hope its digestive system can cope.
Funny how contented a simple sighting can make us, isn’t it?
If you’re unsure whether a fungal fruiting body should be described as a mushroom or toadstool, the convention is to use ‘mushroom’ for edible ones and ‘toadstool’ for poisonous ones. I have been wondering for some time and belatedly looked it up.