Conservation Status: Not of concern
With its bright red cap and white “polka dots,” the typical Amanita muscaria no doubt is the most widely recognized mushroom in the world. However, it is highly variable and different forms have received names that have never quite caught on. These are based primarily on two variables---first, the color of the cap, which ranges from white to yellows and oranges, to deep red and even brown, and second, whether the universal veil is white or yellowish. Different combinations of these two features have produced a number of forms that usually are referred to as varieties. We have illustrated three color forms that occur in the PNW---var. flavivolvata Singer, the commonest one in natural habitats, with red cap and yellowish veil remnants; a paler form common with planted birches and under spruce and pine, with orange cap and white veil remnants; and a rather uncommon one, with white cap and veil remnants. A. m. var. muscaria, with red cap and pure white veil remnants, has been reported from Alaska, but not from more southerly portions of the PNW. All of the forms have striate cap margins, rings that may or may not persist into maturity, and volvas in the form of rings of loose tissue that extend part-way up the stipe from a bulbous base. Along with A. gemmata, A. pantherina, and A. aprica, all contain ibotenic acid. Thus, they cause accidental poisonings but also are sought after by some who seek their psychoactive effects, and A. muscaria has been used ritualistically in areas such as Siberia. A. regalis (Fries) Michael is a related brownish to ocher species that has a boreal distribution, including Alaska.