You’ve got the wrong mushroom

Usually when A. muscaria is incorrectly identified, the offenders use the iconic image of the red and white mushroom, but get its name or origin or effects wrong. But I found an odd reverse example recently, while watching the thriller Dark Harbor. The characters are out mushroom hunting in a field (incidentally, not where you would find fly agaric, as it needs a tree to grow with), and the man almost eats one he’s found, until the woman tells him it’s the “amanita muscarias” – a “rare coastal mushroom originally used by the Iroquois to combat malaria” which is also a powerful aphrodisiac.

But it has a twin sister, the “amanitas rubenica” which is deadly poison, and can only be distinguished from the other by the color of its gills (and which, apparently, grows entirely intermingled with the lookalike in a big patch). I don’t think the second Latin name she says is even a real mushroom. As you can see below, these do not look like A. muscaria at all.

Funny, as its usually Amanita’s ubiquitous image that is used, not its less well-known name. And again, I find myself wondering why they couldn’t just buy a mycology book and get their facts straight.

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