Monthly Squares

April Squares: Top of the Toadstool

This is my day three contribution to Becky’s April Squares: Top photo challenge.

Toadstool is simply a nickname for fungi that is often poisonous or at least inedible.


April Squares: Top of the Toadstool

A Fly Agaric fungi cap photographed from above at Bickerton Hill, Cheshire.


26 replies on “April Squares: Top of the Toadstool”

As far as I’m aware there’s no scientific definition of toadstool. It’s a nickname that seems to be mostly used to inedible or poisonous species and frequently used in children’s books. I never use the name when captioning but thought top of the toadstool read better than top of the fungi or top of the mushroom.

Yes, although the Fly Agaric fungi is a bit deceptive. It’s not as poisonous as many people believe and eating small doses can give the eater hallucinations (and an upset stomach). Some people wonder if the Vikings were using the processed fungi in their berserker moments. Apparently feeding it to reindeer and drinking the reindeer urine gives the psychotropic effect without the upset stomach.

I seem to recall reading that feeding the fungi to the village idiot and drinking their urine was also a method centuries ago. Also, getting the women of the village to chew it and spit out the resulting paste.

“This nickname probably came from the fact that they looked just like a perfect spot for a toad to sit! Some people believe that the term “toadstool” means a mushroom that is poisonous. This belief may have come from the fact that many toads were considered highly poisonous.” And you always see this fungi in children’s fairy tales!

True! But I think I always thought of this fungi as a toadstool as I was a child who loved fairy tales! Though now when I think back some were incredibly black tales – Snow Queen, Little Match Girl. Not really stories for very young children!

I knew most of that prior to Google. I used to lecture to natural history groups and something interesting while being disgusting always went down well.

My best location for the species is also very popular with slugs eating them. I have seen some very nice specimens ruined for photography by slugs. When I found this prime example I photographed it in as many ways as possible.

Thanks Tom, you stay safe also. What is a little confusing about the Fly Agaric is that slugs apparently love eating them. At the same time I read somewhere that prepared and mixed with milk the fungi makes a natural insecticide.

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