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Poisonous Plants in GB

50 51 Fly AgAric Amanita muscaria Family Amanitaceae. Synonyms Magic mushroom. Found in birch or coniferous woodland, the white spotted caps of vivid red or orange are delightful and evocative. The gills are white and the white stem possesses a ring and a volva or death cup at the base. The mushroom of Alices Adventures in Wonderland is potentially lethal, and when young it resembles a white egg that can be mistaken for puffballs or field mushrooms. Fly agaric assists Siberian shamen in their journey to the world of spirits, and in attaining supernatural prowess of movement and sight. In the Hindu Kush Afghanistan, where it is known as Ravens bread, it is made into a beverage or massaged into the skin with henbane as an intoxicant. In tszarist Russia, fly agaric soaked in brine and vinegar was once popular, but its use was prohibited under communist rule. The Sami people of Northern Europe dry the caps and use them to attract the herds of reindeer, who love eating them. The reindeers urine becomes psychoactive and is ritually consumed to aid with spirit walking, the animals body having neutralised some of the toxic components. Across Eurasia it has been employed in folk medicine for sore throats, frostbite, cancer and psychological ailments, often combined with other ingredients including rosebay willowherb, soured milk, and vinegar. Fly agaric raises blood pressure and excites the central nervous system and is therefore dangerous. The documented effects due to the presence of ibotenic acid and muscimol are increased strength and visual acumen, nausea, twitching, exaggerated movements and the ability to leap high into the air. The effects are usually preceded by a period of deathly sleep, and overdose can cause death via collapse of the central nervous system.
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