Fly agaric mushrooms

They may look like the nice toadstools in Enid Blyton novels, but fly agaric mushrooms are actually pretty nasty and potentially lethal.

A red, white spotted fly agaric mushroom


What are fly agaric mushrooms?

Fly agaric mushrooms, or Amanita muscaria, are known for their distinctive appearance, being bright red with white spots, and for their hallucinogenic properties. They are usually dried and eaten, although they’re not that common because of their unpleasant side effects. The strength of the mushroom varies intensely depending on where and when it is picked.

Fly agarics are quite different from the psychedelic or magic mushrooms which contain psilocybin and psilocin. But being legal doesn’t mean they aren’t potentially dangerous.

What are the effects of fly agaric mushrooms?

The effects of fly agarics vary hugely between individuals so we can only explain some of the common effects. Typical experiences include:

  • A dream-like state common to lucid dreaming, which can involve out-of-body experiences and enhanced clarity of the mind.
  • Synaesthesia, where users experience a blurring of their senses, like smelling words or tasting colours.
  • A strong internal dialogue with the feeling of being able to talk yourself through personal issues
  • Blurred vision, with dilated pupils and watery eyes, as well as a runny nose.
  • Involuntarily muscle twitching and trembling.
  • Increased sweating and saliva production.
  • Effects usually last between six and eight hours.

What the risks of taking fly agaric mushrooms?

  • Are you sure that mushroom you’re about to eat is a fly agaric? Are you willing to bet your life on it? The Amanita mushroom family contains some of the deadliest mushrooms out there, so if you pick and scoff the wrong variety, quite simply, you could die.
  • It’s very common to experience intense nausea and stomach cramps in the hours following ingestion.
  • There is no way of predicting what your trip will be like, and whether you will find it enjoyable or extremely upsetting.
  • Body perception and motor skills are changed, making you clumsy, dizzy, and more likely to injure yourself.

Fly agaric mushrooms and the law:

The law surrounding fly agaric is complicated. The Misuse of Drugs Act reclassified both fresh and prepared mushrooms containing psilocybin or psilocin as Class A drugs, but fly agarics do not contain these chemicals, so aren’t considered Class As. However, it is still illegal to sell fly agaric for human consumption. Head shops or legal drugs suppliers overcome this by writing “not for human consumption” on the label and selling them for botanical research purposes. It is not illegal to possess them.

Fly agaric mushrooms are also known as:

Amanita muscaria, panther mushroom, berserker mushrooms.

If you are planning on taking fly agaric mushrooms:

  • Do not try and gather the mushrooms yourself as it is easy to confuse them with deadly varieties. Make sure you take them with someone who really knows what they are doing.
  • Take them in an environment where you feel safe to reduce the risk (LINK) of a frightening trip.
  • Have a sitter, someone sober, who can look after you if your trip is unpleasant or you try to harm yourself.
  • If you start to feel ill after taking any mushroom, go straight to the hospital with a sample of what you have taken.

Photo of a fly agaric mushroom by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015