Fly agaric mushrooms

When you see a flying agaric mushroom, you might think it looks like a fantasy toadstool. While they may be pretty to look at, you should know that they’re not as harmless as the fairytales. These mushrooms are hallucinogens and can give you a pretty bad trip if things go wrong. So, before you guzzle them down, read this article to find out what you’re in for.

A young woman is sitting at a desk. She is wearing a mask. She is looking up flying agaric mushrooms. This is a wide-angle image.

What are fly agaric mushrooms? 

Fly agaric mushrooms, or Amanita muscaria, are known for their distinctive appearance. They’re a bright red mushroom with white spots, kinda like Toad in Mario Kart. Another amazing quality of theirs is their hallucinogenic properties, courtesy of ibotenic acid and muscimol. The flu agaric preparation is generally just creating a dry mushroom. It’s important to note that strength varies intensely depending on where and when it is picked. So getting the right flying agaric dosage is notoriously tricky. Honestly though, not a lot of people use them. Instead, a majority choose to take drugs with easier side effects.

Fly agarics are quite different from the psychedelic or magic mushrooms which contain psilocybin and psilocin. The closest mushroom to them would probably be white gilled amanita pantherina. But just because these are legal doesn’t mean they’re safe.

What are the effects of fly agaric (UK)? 

The effects of amanita muscaria or fly agarics (the ones with the bright red cap and white warts) 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.
  • Involuntary muscle twitching and trembling.
  • Increased sweating and saliva production.

Effects usually last between six and eight hours.

Fun fact: There are theories that flying reindeer and santa claus are all linked to these muscaria mushrooms found in the northern hemisphere and their hallucinogenic properties. Click here to find out the whole story.

What are the risks of taking this red and white mushroom

Eating mushrooms is already a risky business.

  • 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 scoff the wrong variety, quite simply, you could die.
  • It’s very common to experience intense nausea and stomach cramps during the fly agaric trip.
  • There is no way of predicting what your trip will be like, and whether you will find it enjoyable or extremely upsetting.
  • The mushrooms change your body perception and motor skills making you clumsy, dizzy, and more likely to injure yourself.

Fly agaric mushrooms and the law

People find the law on FAM complicated. Basically,  The Misuse of Drugs Act reclassified mushrooms containing psilocybin or psilocin as Class A drugs. But fly agarics do not contain these chemicals. This means that you can possess them without any consequences. It’s still illegal to sell fly agaric for human consumption though. Head shops or legal drugs suppliers overcome this by writing “not for human consumption” on the label and selling them for botanical research purposes.

To find out more about drugs and the law, click here.

Slang names:

Amanita muscaria, panther mushroom, berserker mushrooms.

If you are planning on taking ‘shrooms:

  • Don’t try and gather the mushrooms yourself. It’s really easy to confuse them with deadly varieties. Make sure you take them with field guides or someone who really knows what they are doing.
  • Take them in an environment where you feel safe to reduce the risk 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’re that sober person, read our article on drugs first aid to get prepared.
  • If you start to feel ill after taking any mushroom, go straight to the hospital with a sample of what you have taken. To read more about overdosing, click here.

Next Steps

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By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 15-Sep-2021