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

Sweet Little Toxic Toadstools

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

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51 thoughts on “Sweet Little Toxic Toadstools

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

      1. 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!

          1. 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.

          2. 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 😉

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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