Sweet Little Toxic Toadstools

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of red and white fly agaric Amanita muscaria mushrooms

Today on our #NatureDoodlewash hike, we’ve wandered across some poisonous toadstools that also go by the scientific name of Amanita muscaria and the more popular name of fly agaric. It received this name because since medieval times it was used as an insecticide, crushed in milk for attracting and killing flies. Despite it’s toxicity, it’s one of the more iconic toadstools, showing up in children’s books and Christmas cards around the globe. Stranger still is that this pretty little fungus has a long history of being used as a drug, enjoyed for its hallucinogenic properties.  Though, I guess, depending on your families, this could really perk up a holiday celebration.

Fly agaric contains psychoactive alkaloids, and has been used in Asia and parts of northern Europe for religious and recreational purposes. The latter purpose is more simply translated into, “these ‘shrooms will get you high.” Unfortunately, the “euphoria” these promise comes with nausea, drowsiness, increased saliva, sweating and mood changes. This doesn’t really seem worth it for a bit of euphoria, but I guess its not much different than the label of every single pharmaceutical on the market today. Yes you’ll feel better, but it “may cause” some seriously unpleasant things to happen that you can no longer sue us for, since we’ve just admitted to them in this microscopic type.

So, I think I’ll leave this little treat to the shamans and just stick to a lovely glass of wine instead. Truthfully, at my age, if I actually drink enough wine to experience euphoria, I’m likely on my way to the same adverse side effects. But all of this fails to dim the fairytale appeal of these little mushrooms. The very appearance of the fly agaric sends you into a world of fantasy. As you gaze across them you pause and wonder if what you saw was real. Is that a fairy you saw glancing past and why are you sure there must be a gnome nearby? Perhaps that’s the real hallucinogenic appeal. And assuming you tell no one what you just saw, you can enjoy them without all those embarrassing side effects.

Join me throughout the month of June on a virtual nature hike! Show everyone what you love most in nature with a watercolor sketch or painting and tag your images #NatureDoodlewash so we can all enjoy it with you! I’ll create a featured artist gallery of our global hike at the end of the month! 

World Watercolor Month is coming in July! Click here to learn more!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Azo Orange, Pyrrol Red, Permanent Green Pale, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue and Neutral Tint. Sennelier: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you'd like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
51 Comments
  1. I love mushrooms! we have quite a few mushroom hunters around here but I am too scared to learn….beautiful doodle 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Margaret! 😃💕hehe…so mushroom hunter isn’t being added to your resume?! I’ve always wondered about that, but not sure I’d find it as interesting as painting in the end. Lol

      • nope! I’ll leave that for the brave souls that know what they are doing…I rather admire/paint them. 😀

  2. Catherine Johnson 1 year ago

    What a great idea for Christmas celebrations. They are a festive color after all 😂

  3. Teri C 1 year ago

    You did such a beautiful job on these killer mushrooms. I think these are the most dangerous kind.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Teri! 😃💕They really are the prettiest ones, but yeah… they seem to come up for when one googles poisonous mushroom. Which one did today! lol

  4. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Funky fungi! Reading your description has made me giggle. And yes I will gladly have a glass of wine, not too much. Because at my age I have finally learned to avoid side effects. Hehe 🙂 no need to see fairies and gnomes. As always a fantastic doodlewash Charlie.

  5. Sand Salt Moon 1 year ago

    You’re reminding me I still have some fungi I want to paint … I found some pretty pink ones! Yours are very Snow White deceiving – they look so innocent yet …

    • Author

      Thanks, Cynthia! 💕😃Yeah…totally deceptive right?! Nature likes to play some naughty tricks! You should totally paint those pink ones!

  6. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    Psychoactive euphoria
    Amanita muscaria
    Boom goes this schroom
    tripping in your tomb

  7. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Whoa! Those are some funky mushrooms, Charlie! 😜 I think I’ll stick to wine too! 🍷✨

  8. Carol King 1 year ago

    I wonder if this was the kind of toadstool the caterpillar sat on while talking to Alice in Alice in wonderland? Great drawing.

  9. Jacob 1 year ago

    These are great! I did think of Alice in Wonderland, but primarily this had the Mushroom Hill Zone music from Sonic and Knuckles playing in my head. That’s intellect for you 😉 https://youtu.be/sVfGC9YLpTs?t=19s I am now humming this. Thanks for that! Nostalgia is better than wasps, anyway. 😉

    I would always stay well away from any mushrooms I happened across as a child, as if getting too close would spell doom – I feel like this policy ought to continue. I’ll just enjoy their curious aesthetic charm!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! 😃haha! Oh yeah, Sonic! I always think of Super Mario when I see these things. But now brings new meaning to the idea of a “power up”! Lol Yeah…best to steer clear of the real thing I think!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Mario, of course!! I would be predisposed to thinking Sonic, as we were very much a Sega family growing up. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever played a Mario game!

      • Author

        Whaaaaat???!!! You know what happens, next right? get thee online and find one!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Hmm, any recommendations? There are so many! It’ll be hard to top that E.T. game, let’s be honest.

      • Author

        True… that’s tough one to top. lol I actually like MarioKart the most, even more so than the original games 😊

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        Ooh, I’ve just found a SNES version of Mario Kart. I’ll be into that later! 😉 I hope it’s better than Sonic R, which I assume was Sega’s rip-off.

      • Author

        Cool! Let me know what you think!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        It was a lot of fun! But I suspect probably better when you aren’t playing on your lonesome. I played Super Mario World afterwards though and got properly into it! I now know the significance of the mushroom in Mario world 😉

      • Author

        Awesome! You’ve been properly initiated then! Yeah… Mario Kart is best with a partner on Wii with those magical white wireless steering wheels.

  10. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    LMAO!! Once again, you have turned a simple blog post into a den of hilarity. Awesome rendition of the fly agaric, by the way! <3 And it is really bizarre that these are usually pictured in children's books. I suppose it's just because of that splash of color, but it makes it tempting for kids to find these and think they're harmless.

    • Author

      Aww thanks, Teresa! 😃💕lol…glad ya liked this post. I never know what will come out most of the time. I promise I wasn’t eating mushrooms while writing it though. 😊hehe

  11. Jodi 1 year ago

    Only YOU could make me love and adore a mushroom! 🙂

  12. YesterdayAfter 1 year ago

    Awww these are so beautiful! I love mushrooms and also if the one in your post are toxic I love to see them these ones are always found in fairytales illustrations because the red colors with the white dots makes them looks so cute! You should head over my Blog to see my doodlewash for today! 😉 <3

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Carolina! 😃💕Yep, weirdly…these are the toxic ones. Guess they make it into fairy tales based in looks alone! I’ll be by to check out yours!

  13. Arvind 1 year ago

    You are such a ‘fungi’ you…. Beautiful drawing! I remember seeing an exhibition of paintings by artists on mushrooms:)

    • Author

      hehe! Thanks so much Arvind! 😃This is my first time ever painting a mushroom, so glad you liked it. That exhibit sounds interesting!

  14. Magic…..in so many forms. I can see a huge bug sat smoking on a pipe…..was that Alice in wonderland? They sure are iconic things that reap in the memories of many fabulous stories and tales…..one does wonder if these stories were created whilst high on the euphoric properties of these red beauties…or other colours available. Your doodlewash is so brilliant and detailed, I feel a little euphoric just looking at it…the power of the shroom!

    • Author

      Awww thanks! See? You can get high just by looking so that’s the safest high there is! Lol Glad ya liked these, Rebecca.😃💕 I didn’t realize their crazy history until I looked it up!

  15. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    A beautiful Doodlewash, Charlie. Such a charming picture.

  16. debiriley 1 year ago

    Charlie, so gorgeously done! excellent.
    Your post… is a hoot! you sure you’re not a comedian, LOL Wonderful visiting with you and the mushrooms today. Cheers, Debi

  17. Cathe 1 year ago

    I love your mushrooms Charlie. Is it okay to say they are rather adorable?

  18. memadtwo 1 year ago

    The Summer Solstice is supposed to be when the fairies come out…perhaps they are hiding behind the mushrooms! Or maybe you need to ingest some to see them…(K)

    • Author

      I’m pretty sure you have to ingest the mushrooms first to see them… hehe… or at least see them clearly! lol 😉

  19. You are rocking it! Love these colors and composition is right on, my bro & pal! I always smile when I see your posts. <3

  20. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    What a lovely painting! I love the red caps! Happy day Charlie!

  21. greenmackenzie 1 year ago

    Wonderful. A little splash of fairy magic and you’re transported into another realm. These always make me smile when I come across them in the woods….I think it’s the bright colour which is so appealing.

    • Author

      Thanks so much! 😃💕Yeah… that color is just awesome. It’s no wonder these are chosen for children’s book. So glad you liked this!

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