Scientific name: Amanita muscaria
The classic fairy tale toadstool, this red and white fungus is often found beneath birch trees in autumn.
StatsCap diameter: 8-20cm
Stem height: 8-18cm
When to seeAugust to November
AboutFly agaric is probably our most recognisable species of fungus, with the mushroom's distinctive red cap and white stalk featuring in countless stories, television shows and even video games! Fly agaric is found in woodlands, parks and heaths with scattered trees, typically growing beneath birch trees or pines and spruces. The colourful fruiting bodies can usually be seen between late summer and early winter.
Like most fungi, the parts we see are just the fruiting bodies, or mushrooms. These grow up from an unseen network of tiny filaments called hyphae, which together form a structure known as the mycelium. The fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation. The mycelium of fly agaric often forms a symbiotic relationship with the trees around it, wrapping around the roots and supplying them with nutrients taken from the soil. In exchange, the fungus receives sugars produced by the trees.
Fly agarics are poisonous and should not be eaten. Reports of deaths are rare, but ingestion often causes stomach cramps and hallucinations.