In April-May each year, our forest sprouts many of these beautiful mushrooms/toadstools (same thing, except the toxic varieties are usually just called toadstools), and we marvel at them alongside the mountain bike tracks.
They’re common where there’s lots of mulch, pine needles and rotting timber.
If you’ve wondered, the answer is yes, they are poisonous, and their name is Amanita muscaria, also known as the fly agaric. Authorities report that the genus Amanita, which contains some of the most toxic known mushrooms found wordwide — including the deadly Death Cap — is responsible for about 95 percent of mushroom poisoning fatalities.
Although a few species of Amanita are edible, many fungi experts advise against eating a member of Amanita unless the species is known with absolute certainty. Because so many species within this genus are so deadly toxic, if a specimen is identified incorrectly, consumption may cause extreme sickness and possibly death. Many, including our orange/red beauty, are also noted for their rather nasty hallucinogenic properties.
If we’ve piqued your curiousity, you can discover much more about the mushroom’s connection to flies and some very interesting ancient religious hypotheses on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria
At left and above are a few photos from Sparrow Hill on May 4 2015.