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fly agaric

fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Photo © Michael Kuo

Features and Behaviors

The fly agaric, or fly amanita, is a large mushroom with a cap as much as six inches wide and a stalk that may be six inches tall. The shiny cap has soft bumps. Cap color is variable but is usually red, orange, yellow or white. The cap is rounded or flat and often has a shallow depression in the center when fully expanded. The margin of the cap is wavy and streaked. The sturdy stalk is hollow at maturity. The white or yellow stalk is thickest at the bottom and tapers upward. There are several rows of fringy scales around the upper section of the bulb (stalk base). The body of a fungus (mycelium) is made up of strands called mycelia. The mycelium grows within the soil, a dead tree or other object and is rarely seen. The fruiting body that produces spores is generally present for only a short period of time but is the most familiar part of the fungus to people.

Fly agaric may be found statewide in Illinois. It grows singly or in groups on forest soil. Unlike plants, fungi do not have roots, stems, leaves, flowers or seeds. The fly agaric must absorb nutrients and water from the objects it grows in. Spores are produced from late spring through fall. The spores provide a means of reproduction, dispersal and survival in poor conditions. Spore production occurs when conditions are favorable, generally with warm temperatures and ample moisture.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Amanitaceae

Illinois Status: common, native