Old mushroom identification book, Germany, 1920.
Aminita Muscaria was used as a fly trap. Tuts claimed that the white spots are deadly poison. The old Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns would place a slice of this mushroom in a bowl of milk and place on top of a cupboard or shelf. As the milk soured and attracted flies while the poison in the mushroom would kill them.
There are also legends explaining that Santa Claus and his flying reindeer were related to this mushroom. The red cap and white spots and ‘trim’. These mushrooms are HIGHLY hallucinogenic but the strychnine (white spots) will kill you shortly after the trip. Very few people have managed to eat these without at lest a short stay in the hospital.
Actually, this is not quite true.
The North American Mycological Association has stated that there were “no reliably documented cases of death from toxins in these mushrooms in the past 100 years”. Studies in Germany have come up with the same results.
The main agent in this mushroom is ibotenic acid, which is contained in the yellow fleshy parts of the cap. After ingestion, the body turns 10-20% of this acid into muscimol,
an unsaturated cyclic hydroxamic acid. 6 mg muscimol are about 30 to 60 mg ibotenic acid. The amount of ibotenic acid varies, though, and depends not only on the region where the mushroom grows. Refugess from Poland who came to Germany after WWII often suffered fly agaric poisoning, the mushroom having been a regular addition to their meals in Poland, but containing higher levels of chemical compounds in Germany. Older recipe books still list it as a local delicacy, and apparently it is still widely in use in Siberia, although for it’s drug qualities rather than as a regular addition to the diet.
Also, summer specimen have been found to contain a higher ratio than the ones growing in autumn. The toxin is not distributed uniformly in the mushroom, with most having commonly been detected in the cap, a moderate amount in the base, with the smallest amount in the stalk.
Muscimol causes a condition very similar to heavy alcohol poisoning (although without a hangover): confusion, speech disorder, Ataxia, a heavy physical unrest, mydriasis, dizziness, exhaustion. However, due to the unpredictability of thetoxin content, other symptoms such as tremor, cramps und muscle twitching can occur. Depending on the patient’s mood and circumstances, depression, anxiety, indifference or euphoria up to a blissful delirium can occur as well. Patients reported changes or confusiono in how they perceived themselves or their personality, often feeling supernaturally strong or being able to fly. Also, confusion as to time and place of being occur frequently. After 10-15 hours, the poisoning ends in a deep sleep. After waking up, patients felt well-rested and had no recollections to their delirium.
Fly agarics therefore are not a hallucinogenic, as often assumed, but a delirantium, i.e. they do not cause ‘real’ hallucinations like LSD does, but rather cause a series of intoxication-related disturbances.
The estimated lethal dose has been established in studies at 10-15 fly agaric caps. Deaths from this fungus have been reported in historical journal articles and newspaper reports, but with modern medical treatment, fatal poisoning from ingesting this mushroom is extremely rare.
There is NO strychnine contained in this mushroom. The white spots are simply the remains of the velum, a thin veil which encases the young fruit and rips open as the mushroom growns and the cap spreads out. The ring at the stalk and the white spots are the last remains of this ‘birthing sheath’ and contain the least amount of toxins.
Adventures in Mushrooming, 8.12.17
a perfect, soft boy.
three little decomposers.
Mushroom … or just a really rough pancake ?