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August 24, 1963

Toxicity of Amanita muscaria

Author Affiliations


Secretary, Massachusetts Medical Society.

JAMA. 1963;185(8):663-664. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060080059020

THE EASILY RECOGNIZABLE orange- or red-capped fly agaric Amanita muscaria is traditionally so named because it has been used to kill flies. Whether or not it is effective for this purpose, it has been considered for centuries to be one of the more toxic wild mushrooms. Mycologists are not in complete agreement as to whether it is really deadly to human beings, although all advise against eating it. The English authority, J. Ramsbottom, believes it probable that it does not cause death in healthy people.1 Robert Graves, the celebrated author of Food for Centaurs and a knowledgeable amateur mycophagist, criticized Dorothy Sayers' choice of the fly amanita as the cause of death of one of her characters in Documents in the Case. He thinks it is not lethal even when eaten raw, but very hot to the taste, and "sends one Berserk." He also believes it was what the

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