Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, May 03, 2013

Fairy Toadstools are late this year.

Amanita muscaria, the "Fly Agaric" is the quintessential Toadstool. It is the classic Fairy Toadstool of children's literature illustrations.

It is repeatedly referred to in the literature as "toxic". It is also one of the most famous Fungi for being the likely origin of "soma". It is much talked about on the Internet and other places by people advocating experimentation by enthusiasts of hallucinogenic experiences.
I do not indulge in such fantasies, nor do I recommend that any reader do so either. 

A classic Fairy Toadstool
The main reason I do not recommend such experimentation, is that the dose is uncontrolled, and one's reaction is unpredictable. "Muscimol is generally a mild relaxant, but it can create a range of different reactions within a group of people". (Source A) A quick Google Search will reveal an abundance of "literature" or should I say "reports" of supposedly successful experiments. I do not recommend any such experimentation.

I referred in the title to these Fungi being late this year. In previous years, they have started as early as late March. This year, their appearance has been delayed to the first week of May. I have no doubt it is linked to the relative lack of seasonal rainfall.

We had heavy rain at the end of January and at the end of February, with relatively little since (such reports are always relative, given that Robertson is one of the wettest places in NSW). I recorded the following rainfall figures for the first four months of 2013, 196mm, 270mm, 124.5mm, 159.25mm - a total of 749.75m. That is well above the long-term average for Robertson of 654.8mm for those four months. But March is historically, our wettest month, and this year, with 124.5mm it was well under the long-term statistical average figure of 188mm. I have no doubt that this has set back the Fungi fruiting.

The earliest stage of development.
The Fungus is covered with the "Universal Veil"
which is
a temporary membranous tissue

that fully envelops immature
fruiting bodies of certain Fungi.

A half-developed Fruiting Body of the Amanita muscaria.
The characteristic flecks are remains of the veil
which are now separated
because the fungi is increasing in size.
This is much like what happens with markings on a balloon
if marked before it is blown up (filled with air).
Check out this technical illustration showing the
mature and immature stages of development.

Half-grown fungus fruiting body.

This fungus fruiting body is now fully open
and flattened on top.

This is the same fungus as above
photographed from the side,
to show how shallow the top is.
at this stage of maturity,
the fungus is able to release its spores,
to propagate the next generation.

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