An ode to Amanita Muscaria. Pictures are mine from the January 2019 Santa Cruz Fungus Fair. I recommend reading this article titled “A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria, as an Example”
From the abstract of the paper mentioned above: “Mushroom field guides, however, almost universally label
the mushroom as poisonous. We discuss the cultural underpinnings and literary form of
mushroom field guides and demonstrate that they work within a mostly closed intellectual
system that ironically shares many of the same limitations of cultural bias found in traditional
folk cultures, but with the pretense of being modern and scientific.”
I had never thought about field guides in this light, but having now had it pointed out, it seems obviously correct.
New information is always coming to light in mycology. Historically, it was common knowledge that the correct method to safely consume Amanita muscaria was by parboiling (this method should not be applied to other mushroom species as Amanita muscaria’s toxins, ibotenic acid and muscimol, are water soluble and can be removed during the process while other mushrooms contain non-water soluble toxins that cannot be removed). But over time, this information has been purposely excluded from field guides, due to cultural bias, however untrue. The article goes into more detail!