18 May 2022

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Fly Agaric is like a toadstool from a fairytale

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Fly Agaric is like a toadstool from a fairytale

Fly Agaric. Picture: Nuala Madigan

Mildews, moulds, yeasts and mushrooms are all included in the Fungi Kingdom in nature.

Focusing on mushrooms, I am sure you will notice many appearing in woodlands and grasslands around your community.

Recently, while visiting a peatland in Co. Roscommon I came across one of the easiest mushrooms to identify growing in grassland at the edge of a bog, Fly Agaric.

This mushroom you may also know as a toadstool.

Not all mushrooms are referred to as toadstools and I can only presume that this particular species is because it looks like a tiny seat a toad may like to sit on, indeed toadstools are often referred to within children’s literature, a well known example is Alice in Wonderland! Fly Agaric is easy to identify due to its bright red cap with white spots.

The cap can grow to 20cm in diameter so not only the colour but the size of this mushroom will help you to find it within your local area. The gills located under the cap are white to cream in colour while the stalk is also white and while hard to the touch can easily break.

I should also mention Fly Agaric is poisonous so I don’t recommend you pick or eat this particularmushroom. Fly Agaric prefers acid soils so while the example I found was close to an acidic bog in your community, if you don’t live near a bog, watch for it beneath birch and spruce trees.

You can expect to find Fly Agaric until November so plenty of time to have a look for it. This is an important species within our communities as it transfers nutrients necessary for tree growth to the roots of the trees.

In fact all mushrooms are important they are one of natures best decomposers supporting the breakdown of leaf litter into a fertile growing medium that all plants can benefit from.

If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed like to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch column, contact me on 045-860133 or

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