Sunday, 6 October 2013

Autumn Colour

It's impossible to have too much of the wonderful autumn colours which are brightening up the countryside at the moment.  The trees are getting better by the day, this maple tree is growing beside one of the paths around our housing estate.
Against the deep blue of the sky this morning, the golden yellow of these trees are shown off to their absolute best.  This one grows close to Head House Farm, where we walked in the sunshine this morning.
Along the old railway tracks which once formed the West Hallam Colliery site, there is always a good selection of fungi at this time of year, but none catches the eye as much as the Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) which proliferate here.
This has to be the archetypal toadstool.  Ask anyone to draw a toadstool and the chances are, they will come up with a red-topped, white-dotted mushroom.  Famously poisonous, it's deadly reputation is somewhat exaggerated.  They do contain a hallucinogenic compound called 'muscimol' which is destroyed by cooking and indeed the fungus is eaten in parts of Europe. Uncooked, they can cause anyone who eats them, to 'see' all sorts of things.  There are reports of Reindeer in northern Europe, ingesting Fly Agarics as they browse for moss, resulting in an unseemly display of 'falling about' and a 'far-away' look in their eyes!
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