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Red Fly Agaric Mushroom at Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, Warrington Cheshire, England, UK

Red Fly Agaric Mushroom at Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, Warrington Cheshire, England, UK
An agaric is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus (cap) that is clearly differentiated from the stipe (stalk), with lamellae (gills) on the underside of the pileus. "Agaric" can also refer to a basidiomycete species characterized by an agaric-type fruiting body. An archaic usage of the word agaric meant 'tree-fungus' (after Latin agaricum); however, that meaning was superseded by the Linnaean interpretation in 1753 when Linnaeus used the generic name Agaricus for gilled mushrooms.

Most species of agarics are classified in the Agaricales, however, this type of fruiting body is thought to have evolved several times independently, hence the Russulales, Boletales, Hymenochaetales, and several other groups of basidiomycetes also contain agaric species. Older systems of classification place all agarics in the Agaricales, and some (mostly older) sources still use "agarics" as a common name for the Agaricales.

Contemporary sources now tend to use the term euagarics when referring only to members of the Agaricales. "Agaric" is also sometimes used as a common name for members of the genus Agaricus, as well as for members of other genera, for example, Amanita muscaria is sometimes called "fly agaric".

Amanita muscaria poisoning occurs in either young children or people ingesting it to have a hallucinogenic experience. Occasionally, immature button forms have been mistaken for puffballs. Additionally, the white spots can be washed away during heavy rain and it then may seem as the edible A. caesarea.

Amanita muscaria contains a number of biologically active agents, at least one of which, muscimol, is known to be psychoactive. Ibotenic acid, a neurotoxin, serves as a prodrug to muscimol, with approximately 10-20% converting to muscimol upon ingestion. A toxic dose in adults is approximately 6 mg muscimol or 30 to 60 mg ibotenic acid; this is typically about the amount found in one cap of Amanita muscaria. However, the amount and ratio of chemical compounds per mushroom varies widely from region to region and season to season, which further confuses the issue. Spring and summer mushrooms have been reported to contain up to 10 times as much ibotenic acid and muscimol compared to autumn fruitings.

A fatal dose has been calculated at an amount of 15 caps. Deaths from this fungus A. muscaria has been reported in historical journal articles and newspaper reports; however, with modern medical treatment a fatal outcome because of the poison of this mushroom would be extremely rare. Many older books list it as "deadly" but this is a mistake that gives the impression it is far more toxic than it actually is. The North American Mycological Association has stated there are absolutely no reliably documented fatalities in the past century. The vast majority (90% or more) of mushroom poisoning deaths are from having eaten either the greenish to yellowish death cap (A. phalloides) or perhaps even one of the several white Amanita species which are known as destroying angels.

The active constituents of this species are water soluble, and boiling and then discarding the cooking water will at least partly detoxify A. muscaria. However, drying may increase potency as the process facilitates the conversion of ibotenic acid to the more potent muscimol. According to some sources, once detoxified, the mushroom becomes edible.

File under: Grappenhall heys grappenhallheys walled garden Warrington Cheshire England UK tony smith tonysmith hotpix tonysmithhotpix mushroom red fungi big large agaric fly flyagaric mature white dots autumn October Fall wet weather nature natural history world

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