by Michael W. Beug Email: beugm@evergreen.edu
The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA
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Slide 32.
Amanita muscaria var. formosa is a color variant of Amanita muscaria. Amanita muscaria can be white, yellow, red, orange or even brown. All Amanita muscaria variants are characterized by white gills and stem, a white spore print, warts on the cap which easily wash or rub off, a membranous partial veil that leaves a distinct membranous mid-stem ring and remains of the universal veil seen as three small rings of tissue just at the enlarged stem base. The book Alice in Wonderland was written by Lewis Carroll after he had experimented with Amanita muscaria and the changes in size and time perception described in Alice in Wonderland are characteristic effects of the mushroom intoxication. People remain fascinated by this mushroom and you will see it illustrated in many children's books, on lawn ornaments and on kitchen items. Siberian tribesmen valued Amanita muscaria for its effects and would even trade a prized reindeer for one or two dried specimens. When they urinated on the ground an hour after eating the mushrooms, the reindeer would come for the salt in the yellow snow and become intoxicated, clueing poorer tribesmen to capture the urine for their own intoxication. The common name "Fly Agaric" refers to the fact that in the Middle Ages Europeans learned that the mushroom crushed in a saucer of milk would attract flies that would become stupefied and drown. In some parts of the world, Amanita muscaria is still used as an insecticide.
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