An Alaskan Amanita

This week's (Mar-14-2004) featured photograph.

Amanita muscaria
This sprout of Amanita muscaria broke through the leaf litter the day before this photo. August, 2003. Eagle River, Alaska.

These Amanita muscaria were blooming in early August beside a trail in the Chugach Mountains. There were seven of them. A few days later they were all gone, harvested by someone, or eaten by animals. I was told by a local naturalist that red squirrels will take Amanitas.

The underground mycelium which produces the fruiting body in late summer can persist for many years or centuries. According to Kendrick, the mycelium of a single colony of Armillaria ostoyae, an agaric mushroom found in western North America, was estimated to be over a thousand years old, covered 600 hectares, and had a biomass exceeding that of a blue whale.

Amanita muscaria sproutingThis amanita sprout has just broken the surface of the soil. At this stage they double in size in one day.