Collection location: Rock Creek Regional Park, Montgomery Co., Maryland, USA [Click for map]
Project: My Cology is Better than Yours
Project: Collection – Local Mycoflora
Not a great specimen or photo, but at least this is typical form.
Macrofungi Associated with Oaks, p26; Bessette p.59
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|I’d Call It That||3.0||18.81||4||(MLivezey,convallaria,ret)|
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I have more than a few eras in the past that I’d like to visit, too! :)
so i can check if in 200 years or 1000 years all CA Russula have decided to take a Macowanites (spelling?) approach and not bother elongating or dealing with spore release structural investments and instead they get spread around via feral pigs and red squirrels. And maybe Amanita phalloides has been so successful and comparatively unmolested by animals and humans, that it has speciated.
it gets much more complicated with mammals, and far more interesting, too.
Yup, those introduced red squirrels grew up with phalloides back in Europe, and perhaps were taught by their Moms, but how would that knowledge have been passed along several generations beyond those original introductions, since phalloides have only recently made their appearance here in CA? And how would a mammal even know that it was phalloides that made them sick, with that delayed response? Of course, the more serious the poisoning the quicker those symptoms show up. Considering how little it takes to kill a human, perhaps in other mammals those symptoms come on more quickly, too? On the other hand, maybe there is something in the odor that triggers that response? After I managed to poison myself with phalloidins in a death cap through skin absorption (not just a quick handling but bathing my hands in phalloides juice while performing a Meixner test), I became highly intolerant of the odor of drying phalloides. I used to dry quite a bit for Anne Pringle back in the day. After I had gotten poisoned, just smelling them on the dryer made me want to vomit!
When I am in the woods, I don’t just look at mushrooms but I look for animal sign, too. I have seen evidence of the introduced feral pigs ignore fields of chanterelles but gobble up mild russulas (I tried them, too!). I have seen peppery russulas dug up and thrown onto the trail, with perfect pig dental imprints on the cap! I have also seen sign of pigs exposing clusters of otherwise untouched panther amanitas, perhaps educating piglets. Grisettes get gobbled down to the ground. Other than their terribly destructive behavior in our woods and fields, they behave a lot like us! Oh wait, we’re pretty damned destructive species too, huh? Agents of change, all.
that hunt and devour Amanita calyptroderma. They almost always get them before the mushrooms break the duff layer, and often leave little piles of mushroom detritus nearby or in tree crotches. They never touch the Amanita phalloides growing in the same area. I wonder… is this some sort of evolved disgust for the smell? Do they ever make mistakes? Would they die if they ate them? Seems like they have some level of knowledge or built-in fear of this mushroom. On top of that, neither that species of squirrel nor that species of mushroom (phalloides) is actually native to the area.
I know that both you and I have found some evidence of living, thriving maggots in various members of section Phalloides (I have posted my results here on MO), but the ability of certain fungus flies (and certainly not ALL) to process amatoxins is already known, and it is quite a small percentage of those deadly amanitas that actually contain larvae.
I have NEVER seen slug damage in a death cap or destroying angel, however, and certainly not mammal’s nibblings.
So which “animals” can safely eat amatoxins? Cat Adams of UC Berkeley claimed in a recent talk that rabbits had livers that didn’t take up amatoxins, but as of yet she hasn’t sent me that paper to confirm. She also mentioned a mouse, but again w/out details.
By and large, I would think that plenty of animals are potentially poisoned by these mushrooms, but they don’t die on the spot, since it is a delayed reaction in them just like in us.
And BTW, “immigrants from Asia and SE Asia” mistaking NA mushrooms for ones they ate in their home countries is not the main reason that folks get poisoned either, here in NA, despite your article to the contrary in your magazine. We see poisonings across the cultural human spectrum, with the vast majority concentrated right here in my fine state of CA. Perhaps you’ll change your tune after a bit more direct western experience?
Mushrooms containing ibotenic acid/muscimol are a bit more complicated. I do see animal bites on these, quite often. But these are for the most part not deadly, altho they are intoxicating, and may even get ingested by some animals for the same reasons that some people eat these. There is evidence in squirrel nests of dried muscaria in their winter stores, the perfect remedy for those long winter days and nights. Drying muscaria changes ibotenic acid to the less toxic muscimol. Why should the Siberians have all of the fun?
And then of course, there is always the one trial learning experience … an inexperienced critter nibbles an unknown mushroom and pays the ultimate price.
Can’t really learn if you are dead! But nobody is following the forest creatures around and testing their carcasses for toxins.
But do link to those papers on slug tolerance to amatoxins. I’d love to read all about it.
…or any other mushroom toxins. Looks like slug feeding so even if these contained any toxins, the slugs fared just fine I’d bet. To maggots and slugs etc amatoxins, ibotenic acid, muscimol, etc. are not called poisons, they’re called flavors.
no amatoxins in this group of amanitas, but there could be ibotenic acid or muscimol. or…?