I don’t usually put purely personal moments on this blog, but on my recent trip up north to Door County, my family was able to watch two amanita mushrooms go thru their life cycle over a couple days. While this was not the famed “fly agaric” (Amanita muscaria), all the amanitas I’ve found in the wild have a similar air and stateliness.
I first started learning about amanitas from R. Gordon Wasson and Terrence McKenna a loooong time ago; while I don’t agree with their theories much any longer, I think their passion for the fly agaric and related mushrooms is understandable to anyone who has come across them in a secluded forest or a mountain clearing.
I think they belonged to the American species cluster called “gemmed amanita,” but couldn’t be sure–I’m happy for anyone to enlighten me if they know better!
Here’s one of the mushrooms: note the distinguishing features of the volva (the bulbous base from which the stalk grows) and the universal veil remnants (the “worts”) on the cap.