Recently we found a few interesting little ‘spots’ of colour spring up beneath the trees in Pine Grove in Centennial Park – a group of Fly Agaric’s. The name may not be immediately recognisable, but the sight of this little fungus grabs most people’s attention!
Park visitor Pandora sniffs a Fly Agaric in Pine Grove
The Fly Agaric (its species name is Amanita muscaria), according to the Encyclopaedia of Life, is a “classic European fairytale mushroom, bearing white gills and white warts on a typically bright red cap”.
It probably originated in Asia or Europe, where it then “spread to cover most parts of the northern hemisphere.
In more recent times it has been transported (unintentionally by humans) to areas of the southern hemisphere” (ref: Australian Fungi – A Blog).
The fungus contains a range of toxic compounds and poisoning can occur, especially in young children and older people.
So, please look but don’t touch!
Depictions of Fly Agarics
The Fly Agaric features prominently in mythology and fairy tales, has featured memorably in television shows such as the BBC’s The Magic Roundabout.
It had been used for various purposes throughout history including as an insecticide in the middle ages to kill flies (although it has not been proved to work very well for this purpose).
Smurf Village – taken from The Smurfs Wiki (http://smurfs.wikia.com/wiki/Smurfs_Wiki)
Where else might you have seen it?
Anyone who has played the Super Mario Bros console game will certainly recognise this little fungus, while those of an older generation may remember the dancing mushroom sequence in the Disney movie Fantasia.
And finally, as a nod to my own personal childhood, they appeared in The Smurfs, of course. The Fly Agaric was often seen as one of the mushroom homes in the Smurf Village!
Below are a few more photos of the Fly Agaric’s that appeared in Centennial Park recently. Alas it seems some park visitors may have taken a fancy to them as footballs, so they aren’t to be seen at the moment, but be rest assured they do pop up from time and time and if you’re interested in seeing them we’ll endeavour to let you know about sightings on Facebook or Twitter.
Do you, like me, remember seeing this fungus in a television show, movie, computer game or in stories when you were growing up? Tell us where you first came across them.
Fly Agaric in Centennial Park – snapped by Ranger Colin
Fly Agaric from above
Underside of Fly Agaric