The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is one of the most recognisable British toadstools. This weekend I found a few at various stages of development and it was interesting to note the variations in both form and colour. Post Hill, Pudsey and Goldenacre Park both offered some great examples.
When they emerge, the young are rounded and covered by the universal veil, like the one above. These two have suffered a bit of slug damage but it provides a useful view through the surface layers. The white patches on the cap are remnants of the universal veil.
The bright scarlet caps start to flatten out as they mature, the colouration gradually turning to a more orange hue. The white patches gradually wash away over time. These next two grew on a patch of steep grassland near birches, and overall I counted 5 in this spot.
The gills are large and white, and the spores have a white print, the universal veil is visible on the underside.
Elsewhere at Spot Hill, two more mature Fly Agaric on the fringes of a patch of bracken, the green fronds provide a lovely contrast to the spotted scarlet caps.
At Goldenacre Park this parched looking Fly Agaric grew directly under the canopy of a Birch, the flattened cap and orange colour suggests a mature fruitbody, the remaining white patches may be a result of the cover provided by the canopy overhead.
The roots of the fly agaric have a symbiotic relationship with a variety of trees, pine, spruce, fir and birch, attaching themselves to tree roots to siphon off nutrients in a way that does not damage the tree.