The "archetype of a classical mushroom" - Amanita muscaria (Vliegenzwam (BE) / Fly agaric (EN) / Fliegenpilz (DE) / Amanite tue-mouches (FR)) - is a cosmopolitan, poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus in the Amanitaceae family. Because this is perhaps the best known mushroomspecies in the entire world, I will not provide a description today.
But have you ever wondered why there is a reference to flies in the common names of this species ? Even the specific epithet in the scientific name derives from the Latin word "musca" meaning "fly". Albertus Magnus wrote in his work "De vegetabilibus" sometime before 1256: vocatur fungus muscarum, eo quod in lacte pulverizatus interficit muscas ("It is called the mushroom of flies, because crushed in milk it kills flies"). This practice has been recorded from Germanic- and Slavic-speaking parts of Europe, as well as the Vosges region and pockets elsewhere in France, and Romania.
Today the red-and-white spotted toadstool is a common image in many aspects of popular culture, especially in children's books, film, garden ornaments, greeting cards, and more recently computer games. Garden ornaments, and children's picture books depicting gnomes and fairies, such as the Smurfs, very often show fly agarics used as seats, or homes. Two of the most famous uses of the mushroom are in the video game series Super Mario Bros., and the dancing mushroom sequence in the 1940 Disney film Fantasia.
But there is no greater delight than finding this species in real nature and I just can't resist to make images of this species at least once every year ...
Image: Kalmthout (BE) - 01/10/2010
© Johan Dierckx
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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.
(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)
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