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Most species in this group also have a bulbous base. Two recent molecular phylogenetic studies have confirmed this classification as natural. Amanita muscaria varies considerably in its morphology, and many authorities recognize several subspecies or varieties within the species. However, a molecular phylogenetic study of different regional populations of A.

Specimens belonging to all three clades have been found in Alaska; this has led to the hypothesis that this was the centre of diversification for this species. The study also looked at four named varieties of the species: var. All four varieties were found within both the Eurasian and North American clades, evidence that these morphological forms are polymorphisms rather than distinct subspecies or varieties. Thus A. Both of these last two are found with Eucalyptus and Cistus trees, and it is unclear whether they are native or introduced from Australia.

They are: [2]. Known to be toxic but used by shamans in northern cultures. Associated predominantly with Birch and diverse conifers in forest. A large, conspicuous mushroom , Amanita muscaria is generally common and numerous where it grows, and is often found in groups with basidiocarps in all stages of development.

Fly agaric fruiting bodies emerge from the soil looking like white eggs. After emerging from the ground, the cap is covered with numerous small white to yellow pyramid-shaped warts.


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These are remnants of the universal veil , a membrane that encloses the entire mushroom when it is still very young. Dissecting the mushroom at this stage reveals a characteristic yellowish layer of skin under the veil, which helps identification. As the fungus grows, the red colour appears through the broken veil and the warts become less prominent; they do not change in size, but are reduced relative to the expanding skin area. The cap changes from globose to hemispherical, and finally to plate-like and flat in mature specimens. The red colour may fade after rain and in older mushrooms.

The free gills are white, as is the spore print. The oval spores measure 9—13 by 6. At the base is a bulb that bears universal veil remnants in the form of two to four distinct rings or ruffs. Between the basal universal veil remnants and gills are remnants of the partial veil which covers the gills during development in the form of a white ring.

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It can be quite wide and flaccid with age. There is generally no associated smell other than a mild earthiness.

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Although very distinctive in appearance, the fly agaric has been mistaken for other yellow to red mushroom species in the Americas, such as Armillaria cf. Poison control centres in the U. Furthermore, the stem, gills and ring of A.


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  • The latter species generally lacks the white warts of A. Amanita muscaria is a cosmopolitan mushroom, native to conifer and deciduous woodlands throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, [21] including higher elevations of warmer latitudes in regions such as Hindu Kush , the Mediterranean and also Central America. A recent molecular study proposes that it had an ancestral origin in the Siberian — Beringian region in the Tertiary period, before radiating outwards across Asia, Europe and North America.

    This species is often found in similar locations to Boletus edulis , and may appear in fairy rings. Ectomycorrhizal , Amanita muscaria forms symbiotic relationships with many trees, including pine , spruce , fir , birch , and cedar. Commonly seen under introduced trees, [39] A. Amanita muscaria poisoning has occurred in young children and in people who ingested the mushrooms for a hallucinogenic experience. Amanita muscaria contains several biologically active agents, at least one of which, muscimol , is known to be psychoactive.

    Spring and summer mushrooms have been reported to contain up to 10 times more ibotenic acid and muscimol than autumn fruitings. A fatal dose has been calculated as 15 caps. The active constituents of this species are water-soluble, and boiling and then discarding the cooking water at least partly detoxifies A. Muscarine , discovered in , [62] was long thought to be the active hallucinogenic agent in A. Muscarine binds with muscarinic acetylcholine receptors leading to the excitation of neurons bearing these receptors.

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    The levels of muscarine in Amanita muscaria are minute when compared with other poisonous fungi [63] such as Inocybe erubescens , the small white Clitocybe species C. The level of muscarine in A. The major toxins involved in A. Muscimol is the product of the decarboxylation usually by drying of ibotenic acid. Muscimol and ibotenic acid were discovered in the midth century.

    Most are detected in the cap of the fruit, a moderate amount in the base, with the smallest amount in the stalk.

    Almost no muscimol is excreted when pure ibotenic acid is eaten, but muscimol is detectable in the urine after eating A. Ibotenic acid and muscimol are structurally related to each other and to two major neurotransmitters of the central nervous system: glutamic acid and GABA respectively. Ibotenic acid and muscimol act like these neurotransmitters, muscimol being a potent GABA A agonist , while ibotenic acid is an agonist of NMDA glutamate receptors and certain metabotropic glutamate receptors [71] which are involved in the control of neuronal activity.

    It is these interactions which are thought to cause the psychoactive effects found in intoxication. Muscazone is another compound that has more recently been isolated from European specimens of the fly agaric. It is a product of the breakdown of ibotenic acid by ultra-violet radiation.

    Fly agarics are known for the unpredictability of their effects. Depending on habitat and the amount ingested per body weight, effects can range from mild nausea and twitching to drowsiness, cholinergic crisis -like effects low blood pressure , sweating and salivation , auditory and visual distortions, mood changes, euphoria , relaxation, ataxia , and loss of equilibrium like with Tetanus. In cases of serious poisoning the mushroom causes delirium , somewhat similar in effect to anticholinergic poisoning such as that caused by Datura stramonium , characterised by bouts of marked agitation with confusion, hallucinations, and irritability followed by periods of central nervous system depression.

    Seizures and coma may also occur in severe poisonings. Medical attention should be sought in cases of suspected poisoning. If the delay between ingestion and treatment is less than four hours, activated charcoal is given. Gastric lavage can be considered if the patient presents within one hour of ingestion. There is no antidote, and supportive care is the mainstay of further treatment for intoxication. Though sometimes referred to as a deliriant and while muscarine was first isolated from A.

    A benzodiazepine such as diazepam or lorazepam can be used to control combativeness, agitation, muscular overactivity, and seizures. The wide range of psychoactive effects have been variously described as depressant , sedative - hypnotic , psychedelic , dissociative , or deliriant ; paradoxical effects such as stimulation may occur however. Perceptual phenomena such as synesthesia , macropsia , and micropsia may occur; the latter two effects may occur simultaneously and or alternatingly as part of Alice in Wonderland syndrome , collectively known as dysmetropsia, along with related distortions pelopsia and teleopsia.

    Some users report lucid dreaming under the influence of its hypnotic effects.

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    Unlike Psilocybe cubensis , A. However, following the outlawing of psilocybin mushrooms in the United Kingdom in , the sale of the still legal A. Gordon Wasson on the use of this mushroom in Lithuania.

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    In remote areas of Lithuania Amanita muscaria has been consumed at wedding feasts , in which mushrooms were mixed with vodka. The professor also reported that the Lithuanians used to export A.

    The Lithuanian festivities are the only report that Wasson received of ingestion of fly agaric for religious use in Eastern Europe. Amanita muscaria was widely used as an entheogen by many of the indigenous peoples of Siberia. Its use was known among almost all of the Uralic -speaking peoples of western Siberia and the Paleosiberian -speaking peoples of the Russian Far East.

    There are only isolated reports of A. Normally, Siberian shamans achieve trance by prolonged drumming and dancing. In eastern Siberia, A. The Koryak of eastern Siberia have a story about the fly agaric wapaq which enabled Big Raven to carry a whale to its home. In the story, the deity Vahiyinin "Existence" spat onto earth, and his spittle became the wapaq , and his saliva becomes the warts. After experiencing the power of the wapaq , Raven was so exhilarated that he told it to grow forever on earth so his children, the people, could learn from it.

    The Finnish historian T. Itkonen mentions that A.

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    Ojibwa ethnobotanist Keewaydinoquay Peschel reported its use among her people, where it was known as the miskwedo. The notion that Vikings used A. The notion has become widespread since the 19th century, but no contemporary sources mention this use or anything similar in their description of berserkers. Muscimol is generally a mild relaxant, but it can create a range of different reactions within a group of people. Amanita muscaria is traditionally used for catching flies possibly due to its content of ibotenic acid and muscimol.

    Recently, an analysis of nine different methods for preparing A. In , R. Gordon Wasson proposed that A. Soma is mentioned as coming "from the mountains", which Wasson interpreted as the mushroom having been brought in with the Aryan invaders from the north.

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    Furst evaluated the evidence for and against the identification of the fly agaric mushroom as the Vedic Soma, concluding cautiously in its favour. Philologist, archeologist, and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar John Marco Allegro postulated that early Christian theology was derived from a fertility cult revolving around the entheogenic consumption of A.

    King wrote a detailed rebuttal of Allegro's theory in the book A Christian View of the Mushroom Myth ; he notes that neither fly agarics nor their host trees are found in the Middle East , even though cedars and pines are found there, and highlights the tenuous nature of the links between biblical and Sumerian names coined by Allegro. He concludes that if the theory were true, the use of the mushroom must have been "the best kept secret in the world" as it was so well concealed for two thousand years.

    The toxins in A. When cut in pieces and parboiled twice during minutes in plentiful of fresh water until thoroughly cooked, it seems to be detoxified. The German physician and naturalist Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff wrote the earliest published account on how to detoxify this mushroom in Use of this mushroom as a food source also seems to have existed in North America. A classic description of this use of A.