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Red and white mushrooms, also known as amanita muscaria or fly agaric, are poisonous plants found in temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere. These cosmopolitan mushrooms are often found in woodlands of birch, pine, spruce, fir, and cedar. In the Northern Hemisphere, red and white mushrooms pop-up during the wet seasons of autumn and winter, but may differ based upon location and climate.
Amanita muscaria becomes relatively large (3-8 inches), and has bright red tops when they’re fully-grown. Although generally considered poisonous, deaths are extremely rare, and it has been consumed as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America after parboiling in water. Amanita muscaria is now primarily famed for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. It was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia; however, such traditions are far less well-documented. An American banker and amateur ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson proposed the fly agaric was in fact the Soma talked about in the ancient Rig Veda texts of India; since its introduction in 1968, this theory has gained both followers and detractors in anthropological literature.
They were also used by ancient Siberian shaman, who would consume the mushrooms and drink their urine for insight and “transcendental experiences”. Compared to other hallucinogenic mushrooms, however, the amanita muscaria is said to be “rarely” consumed in modern times.
Autumn leaves lie scattered amongst the green grasses, as the beautiful mushrooms push their way through the ground. They always remind me of fairy tales.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35. A touch of soft focus added. April 2011 Southland New Zealand
Featured 21st April 2011
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I would like to dedicate this one to Viv A special friend, who has a very big heart. Thank you Viv for being who you are.