The Original Soma
November 15, 2010 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Are these Amanita muscaria mushrooms?

I found them this afternoon growing under a coniferous tree. It's been raining all weekend here in Seattle. I've looked through Google images and they seem to match, yet I'm no mycophile so I can't be sure. Judging by what I read on Wikipedia, it sounds like Amanita can grow in this climate, yet I don't think I've ever seen them in Seattle before.

Though I didn't measure them, I'd estimate the caps to be about 12cm across.
posted by Tube to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Boy yeah. Stay away from those.
posted by Namlit at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2010


Most probably Amanita muscaria; they're common around here. Check for white spore print (on a black surface.) Not too good for vision quests, I hear. Try google images for lots of examples of variations.

Which side of the mushroom did Alice taste? Every room has two sides: the inside and the outside. Merry xmas
posted by billb at 6:25 PM on November 15, 2010


There are a bunch of Amanita that look very nearly identical, some of which will kill you quite dead (unless you can get a liver transplant in 48 hours). I don't think I'd eat them if I weren't an experienced mycologist.

[Also, and this is from personal experience: I never had any psychotropic reaction to muscaria. Although, frankly, they did taste good. Like stewed meat.]
posted by Netzapper at 6:33 PM on November 15, 2010


Looks like. White gills, infamous cap, annulus... Take a spore print on a dark piece of a paper - white spores = amanita.

Stay far, far away... There is no antidote if you're poisoned.
posted by muirne81 at 6:35 PM on November 15, 2010


You might want to head over to UWs Natural Sciences Library where they keep the books on mushroom identification behind the counter [or did when I worked there a million years ago] to get some more background information and maybe talk to a specialist who knows.
posted by jessamyn at 6:39 PM on November 15, 2010


Probably. And not even close to an edible. You can touch it, but don't ingest it. And don't drink the urine of someone else who has ingested it and then go berserking. This is a pretty deadly mushroom, but it does need to be ingested.

if you're just curious, spore print, as noted above, will provide the answer. Here's how to do it (about 3/4 down the page).
posted by Toekneesan at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're Amanita, what species I couldn't tell you for sure, but I think they're muscaria. My mycologist colleague confirms this. I do know that they're wicked poisonous.

I've seen them here since I was a kid, so they're not unusual or new. This year they seem to be all over the place, and I counted twenty or so in my parents front yard yesterday, all under a fir tree. Just like most mushrooms, some years they go crazy and pop up everywhere and some years you see none.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2010


It looks like one, but it's hard to tell from photos; there are hundreds of mushrooms in the Amanita family alone.
For expert knowledge, check out David Arora's unbelievable All That the Rain Promises and More, which is geared to your area. This identification guide is fantastic, and is filled with people talking about why they love mushrooms and why they love hunting for them in the forests. if you're unconvinced, look at that cover. Tell me you can't love a book with that cover.
posted by missmary6 at 7:04 PM on November 15, 2010


Red and warty cap like that, white gills, growing out of an eggish form in the ground, white annulus (stem ring) -- yes, almost certainly Amanita muscaria, and nice specimens at that. Your question didn't mention you wanting to sample them in any way, and that's for the best.
posted by cog_nate at 8:18 PM on November 15, 2010


I have eaten Amanitas Muscaria(over a whole ounce dried), and if you are considering eating them, I strongly urge you to reconsider.

The experience was very unpleasant. Not only did I vomit while trying to keep them down, but once they hit me....

Imagine losing all of your memories and your sense of self. Imaging losing complete control of your body, and having seizures, and banging your head repeatedly into things, and being unable to stand or move or otherwise compose yourself in a conscious directed fashion. Imagine being deathly ill for hours.

Experientially, I was a shell of a person, not even an animal. I was a being trapped in temporal loops, my identity having been completely annihilated by the sheer intensity of living time discontinuously. Instead of experiencing life as a serious of mostly discrete sensual impressions, moments became bundles of sense data which I would experience over and over and over and over.

Eventually, my friends dragged me, pale and probably covered in vomit and filth, to my bedroom so they would not have to watch me die.

Should they have called a hospital? I am really glad they did not, for I came to the next day.

Needless to say, I have never gone back through the looking glass.
posted by satori_movement at 9:07 AM on November 16, 2010


Needless to say, I have never gone back through the looking glass.

On the off chance there's any confusion, the mushroom generally used as a hallucinogen is psilocybin... It isn't as likely to be found in the backyard, but has more pleasing effects. Comparison.
posted by mdn at 3:49 PM on November 16, 2010


Almost definitely, 98% likely Amanita muscaria. Could be A. panthera, but I doubt it. Don't think it's from Volvariella (nor any other volva-bearing mushroom genus), and there isn't any other Amanita lookalike that I'm aware of.

There are a bunch of Amanita that look very nearly identical, some of which will kill you quite dead (unless you can get a liver transplant in 48 hours). I don't think I'd eat them if I weren't an experienced mycologist.

[Also, and this is from personal experience: I never had any psychotropic reaction to muscaria. Although, frankly, they did taste good. Like stewed meat.]


Netzapper is right about don't eat them if you aren't an experienced mycologist, of course, but the lookalike, super-deadly Amanitas don't really look like this. And: you probably escaped the psychotropic reaction because your preparation method washed the highly-water-soluble (main) psychotropic ingredient away (IIRC, there are 4 or more such chemicals in A. muscaria, but only one in significant amounts). The Japanese eat them, after 3 changes of boiling water.

--

Now, to stomp out some fear-laden posts that misinform:

Maude_the_destroyer: They're Amanita, what species I couldn't tell you for sure, but I think they're muscaria. My mycologist colleague confirms this. I do know that they're wicked poisonous.

If you can't tell the species for sure, then you don't know that they are wicked poisonous. Please stop.

--

Several people have claimed these are deadly. I used to think so, too. Turns out there hasn't been a verifiable death from this mushroom in N. America in the last 100 years. There have been many poisonings - but then, accidental hallucinogenic trips are poisoning. Additionally, as some have alluded, the "trip" is almost always preceded by nausea & vomiting. Even Erowid forum members who don't shy off of psilocybin nausea-laden trips don't seem too eager about A. muscaria, for the most part. FWIW.

The mushroom gets its deadly reputation by association with Amanita phalloides and other deadly cousins (which don't look a thing like it). This mushroom isn't reputed to be a "good ride", certainly causes nausea, but isn't deadly. Can be eaten for food, with careful preparation.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:02 PM on November 16, 2010


IAmBroom, I wouldn't want to clean up after you. Yeah, when you have correctly identified and prepared muscaria, you are unlikely to die. But you are just plain wrong about the havoc it and misidentification with a large number of its look-a-likes have caused. Even if you're looking for a course for adventure, this is not the boat you're looking for. Leave this one alone. It's a fine line between dying and surviving.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:01 PM on November 17, 2010


Toekneesan, please provide one example of someone suffering more than I have described (primarily severe nausea, vomiting, hallucinations) from Amanita muscaria or its lookalikes.

I've searched the literature fairly extensively, recently, and will stand by my statement until proven wrong by facts.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:57 PM on November 20, 2010


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