I am no expert on mushrooms but I can tell you that the ones springing up on our front lawn are mighty stunning. When Zeph was a tiny puppy, he nibbled on some mushrooms growing in the garden. I was so hysterical because there are toxic mushrooms in New Zealand. Thankfully, they weren’t poisonous mushrooms that he tasted but I rushed him to the vet (who basically had the job of calming me down).

This year’s mushroom crop is slightly more alarming though. I have been on regular mushroom patrol in the garden surrounding the house because there are some rather damp areas underneath some pine and native beech trees – fertile ground for mushrooms to spring up. And what did I find? THIS.

Stunning red and white polka dot numbers I hear you say? You hear me saying OMG! OMG! and running around hysterically. Why? Because this is a Fly Agaric mushroom. One nibble on this and you will be shuffling off this mortal coil. You might get a few hallucinations first but basically you’ll be toast. This is a TOXIC mushroom. It has a distinctive blood red cap with warty-looking white flecky bits. You can see the little bastard on this NZ Government website.

It has a very pretty scientific name: Amanita muscaria. Personally, I’d give it the scientific name of Poisonous Little Bastard. Apparently, if you parboil this mushroom and eat it, you might not necessarily cark it. Weirdos in parts of Europe and Asia actually do this and scoff a mushroom or two.

I’m not sure what might happen if a dog decides to nibble the cap or stem of this mushroom. I’m taking no chances and have dispatched all the mushrooms to mushroom heaven. R.I.P. Poisonous Little Bastard.

But I did read up on them a bit. Early civilizations and tribes used hallucinogenic fungi to enter and communicate with the spirit world. The Fly Agaric is possibly the earliest hallucinogenic “magic mushroom” used for shamanic purposes. Yes, well. I reckon all this mushroom would do is give you some sort of hallucinogenic trip a’la the 1960s. Or make you think the Mother Ship is picking up the chosen ones (including you) and spiriting you all off to the planet your cult leader has long promised is heaven. Then the mushroom will kill you off – ergo you won’t be having any more hippie dippie hallucinations or taking flying saucer rides.