Early autumn is a great time to hunt for fungi, so I have spent some time searching for the most atmospheric of all, red and white spotted toadstools, in all the likely and less likely places I could think of near where I live. As often happens, when I was not searching, I glanced up and had the thrill of seeing twenty or thirty of them growing on a hillside in a narrow strip of mixed, light woodland on the edge of peaty moorland.
Toadstools are the fruiting bodies of underground mycelial networks. Happy to return to earth, they emerge only briefly after a rain, swelling rapidly to full size then rotting back after releasing spores from white gills on the undersides of their caps.
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. Continue reading “Two Types of Fly Agaric Toadstools”