In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, ‘One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.’
‘One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT?’ thought Alice to herself.
‘Of the mushroom,’ said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.
– from “Through The Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll
The Fly Agaric Mushroom is the common name of the Amanita Muscaria Mushroom. It is often referred to as a toadstool, maybe because it looks so strong and sturdy. But it’s a mushroom. This particular mushroom has played a role in both literature and modern music as it is the type of mushroom the Caterpillar was sitting on when he met Alice in Through the Looking Glass and it was referenced in the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. They are not often seen here and to see a garden abundant with them is treat.
Winter in Northern California can be like fall or spring in other places in the world. What nature displays here in the winter relies entirely on which weather pattern has set in for the duration. This year, it has been a perfect storm for all kinds of mushrooms.
My neighbor’s front garden looks like the entrance to Wonderland, to the delight of the neighborhood. A patch of Amanita Muscaria has sprouted, died, and sprouted and died again and again. Bright red caps with white warts. They are magical and fairytale looking and drew me, and everyone else walking by, in, but they are also very toxic. When looking at them, our brains tend to go “Wow, look at that beautiful uncommon thing” and draw us in for a closer look, but what it should be saying is “Danger! Danger! Go away!”. After our heavy Northern California rains a week ago, this garden has been sprouting mushrooms and molds like crazy. I have been over there for the past three days taking images of these nature things in various states of growth.
You can read all about the Amanita Muscaria mushroom on its Wikipedia page.
Note: I have to repeat that these mushrooms are very toxic.
Enjoy more images in the gallery: