Sunday, January 2, 2011

hey guess what? more mushrooms!

Fiscalini Ranch, Cambria, CA 12/30

The red capped Amanita muscaria rears its head.
You guessed it. We made a visit to the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve mentioned in the previous post and the mushrooms were still at it. We'll have to go for another visit on the heels of a rain in the spring because many of the crazy fungi that we saw were well passed their prime. None the less, I had to write a little about the red speckled devil pictured above.
It's Amanita muscaria also called the Fly Agaric or the Fly Amanita, and it can be a whopper! We saw it just emerging, as in the top photo, still covered with the white speckles of its veil; and we saw it flattened into its later state as a broad polished bronze platter. The last one below really was the size of a small platter and gleamed in the sun like metal.
I had seen pictures of this monster but never in person. Its red and white speckled cap has been the model for countless mushroom cartoons, but I had no idea about its history. This seductive devil is poisonous and hallucinogenic and a short bit of research turns up all sorts idiot adventures. You can pick the thing up and poke it but don't fool with eating, nibbling, or licking it unless you are willing to risk some gut wrenching pain. The effects are unpredictable from person to person, and can vary wildly by region, season, and even by individual mushroom. But wait there's more! The fly part of the name comes from the use of the mushroom to attract and stupefy flies. Didn't even know a fly could be stupefied. And, get this, the mushroom can concentrate vanadium from the soil! Vanadium, by the way, is a rare metallic element that is valued as an ingredient in steel alloys... stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it.

Maybe this is going to turn into a mushroom blog some day... The more looking and reading I do the more fascinating these devils are.

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