E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Amanita muscaria group
fly agaric

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #48174)

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Distribution of Amanita muscaria group
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Species Information

Subgenus Amanita. The true Amanita muscaria is characterized by a brightly colored cap with whitish warts, white gills, membranous ring, and volva consisting of a series of scaly concentric rings above the basal bulb. The cap color is variable from red to orange, through shades of yellow or tan to white, and can change in age, with the weather, and with growing conditions. We also call by that name a more common species in the Pacific Northwest that has yellowish warts and occurs with similar cap color variation. |According to D. Miller, there appear to be two species called by this name in the Pacific Northwest: occasionally we can see true Amanita muscaria with white warts, associated with introduced trees, and more commonly another species yellowish warts with our native trees. Both species can be red, orange, yellow or white. Our second species matches Amanita chrysoblema, a species name used for the white variant of this North American species, but actually applying to all color variants. Some variety designations such as var. flavivolvata, var. formosa, var. guessowii and var. alba are of uncertain application. (D. Miller, pers. comm.) |Amanita muscaria is used in shamanistic rites in some Siberian tribes. |The insecticidal or insect-repelling character implied by the Latin and English names is not well established, and Michelot & Melendez-Howell speculate that it was named the mushroom of the flies because it is able to induce divine or evil states of possession similar to those that flies were historically supposed to produce. J. Lindgren (pers. comm.) says that this species does stupefy flies and it is an interesting experiment to watch the flies pass out and them come back to life in a short time. |Amanita muscaria, in the wide sense that is currently used, is found widely and commonly in the Pacific Northwest.

A. muscaria in the wide sense has been recorded from BC (in Redhead(5)), WA (Jumpponen(1)), OR (Zeller(2)), and ID, (Oda(1)), and is also found elsewhere in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Australasia.
5-30(40)cm across, spherical becoming convex then flat to slightly depressed; 1) bright red to blood-red, scarlet-red or orange-red often fading to orange, yellow-orange or paler (var. flavivolvata [southern and western North America]), 2) can be bright yellow-orange to yellow fading (var. formosa - most common variety in eastern North America), 3) yellow with peachy center (var. persicina - southeast), or 4) white to buff to silvery-grayish-white (var. alba - northern); covered at first with pyramidal warts [which are whitish to pale yellowish tan (var. flavivolvata), pallid or tan to yellow (var. formosa)], buff or tan (var. alba); warts flattened when old, often wearing away or washed off by rain, cap viscid when moist, margin usually at least somewhat striate, (Arora, except for notations in square brackets)
thick, firm when young, soft when old; white, (Arora)
adnate or adnexed to free, broad, close; white, (Arora), free or slightly attached, crowded, broad; whitish, (Lincoff)
5-20(30)cm x 1-3(4)cm at top, widening downward or equal with a basal bulb up to 6cm wide; white to whitish or somewhat discolored when old, smooth or with ragged scales below ring, (Arora), 5-18cm x 0.3-3cm, (Lincoff for var. muscaria), VOLVA consists of series of scaly concentric rings (usually 2-4) at top of basal bulb, (Arora) seen as concentric rings or patches of creamy to yellowish tan tissue around an enlarged base, (Lindgren)
membranous, usually forming a thin, persistent, median to superior, skirt-like ring that may collapse when old; ring white or with yellow patches, margin often torn or toothed, (Arora), ring membranous, median to superior, white with yellowish edge, often falling away, (Lindgren)
faint (Phillips)
pleasant (Phillips)
Microscopic spores:
spores 9-13 x 6.5-9 microns, elliptic, smooth, inamyloid, (Arora), spores (7.5)9.1-12.8(19.0) x (5.5)6.6-8.6(11.5) microns, (Lindgren), spores 9.2-11.6 x 6.4-9.5 microns, nearly round to broadly elliptic, smooth; basidia 4-spored, 40-50 x 10-13 microns, clavate, occasionally with basal clamp; pleurocystidia not seen, marginal cells basidiole-like to cystidiole-like; cap cuticle consisting of periclinal hyphae 1-4.5 microns across, strongly gelatinized, occasional septa with clamps, (Breitenbach)
Spore deposit:
white (Arora)

Habitat / Range

single or scattered to densely gregarious or in large fairy rings, "in forests and at their edges, also with planted trees", (Arora), on the ground, under Pinus (pine), Picea (spruce), and Betula (birch), also live oak and madrone in California, fruits in June to October, in California during winter, (Lincoff), summer, fall, winter

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


toxic effects not discussed here

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Arora(1)*, Lindgren(1), Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Ammirati(1)*, Kibby(1)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, Bessette(2)*, Barron(1)*, Miller(14)*, Jumpponen(1), Breitenbach(4)*, Michelot(1), Tulloss(5), Redhead(5), Oda(1), Vellinga(14), Trudell(4)*, Sept(1)*, Bacon(1)*, AroraPocket*, Buczacki(1)*, Zeller(2), Desjardin(6)*, Siegel(2)* (subsp. flavivolvata), Marrone(1)*, McBride(1)*, McAdoo(1)*

References for the fungi

General References