Chicago outdoors: The wonder of nature’s resilency and fly agaric

A photo and stories of fly agaric and a fine example of the resilency of nature are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.

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Fly agaric spotted at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Fly agaric spotted at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Paul Bleers

Notes come from around Chicago outdoor and beyond.



“While wandering around Morton Arboretum recently, a friend and I happened across this. Pictured is a variety of fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), a very beautiful but poisonous mushroom. Legend has it that Vikings would ingest them before battle and then go berserk fighting their enemies. Pretty cool, huh?” Paul Bleers

A: Beyond cool. Andy Miller, principal mycologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, emailed that it was Amanita muscaria var. guessowii. He added, “It is one of the most photogenic and easily recognized mushrooms in the USA. It differs from the true fly agaric in having a yellow cap vs. a red cap.

The page by the U.S. Forest Service includes this tidbit: “In the `old world,’ the psychoactive fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) has been closely associated with northern European and Asiatic shamans and their rituals. Researchers have documented its use or presumed use by numerous cultures throughout Europe and Asia. In Siberia, its use predates the crossing of the Bering Straits into North America.”


John and Sandy Anspach emailed the photo below and this, “A few days ago we saw this amazing little display of nature’s beauty and ability to thrive on a sign post.” It was on the Des Plaines River Trail at Deerfield Road.

WOTW, the celebration of wild stories and photos around Chicago outdoors, runs most weeks in the special two-page outdoors section in the Sun-Times Sports Saturday. To make submissions, email ( or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside), Instagram (@BowmanOutside) or Blue Sky (@BowmanOutside).

A prime example of nature’s abilty to endure on a signpost along the Des Plaines River Trail. Credit: John and Sandy Anspach

A prime example of nature’s abilty to endure on a signpost along the Des Plaines River Trail.

John and Sandy Anspach



Tuesday, Oct. 17: Cory Yarmuth of Midwest Outdoors, Arlington Anglers, Poplar Creek Banquets, Hoffman Estates, 6:30 p.m.,

Wednesday, Oct. 18: Ken “Husker” O’Malley on fall fishing, South Side Muskie Hawks, The Sock Bar and Grill, Hickory Hills, Chicago, 7 p.m.,

Thursday, Oct. 19: Ralph Steiger on Lake Michigan smallmouth bass, salmon and trout, Fish Tales Fishing Club, Worth Township offices, Alsip, 7 p.m.,


Monday, Oct. 16: Boat America, Northfield, Dan O’Connell,

Next Saturday, Oct. 21: Boat America, Chicago, Dan O’Connell,


Oct. 21-22: Mokena,


Sunday, Oct. 15: Frog season (bullfrogs only) ends

Tuesday, Oct. 17: Remaining firearm/muzzleloader deer permits sold over-the-counter


Oct 26: Maritime folklore and fundraising, Chicago Maritime Museum, Chicago photographer, Barry Butler, and Tall Ships captain, Tom Kastlle host,


Nov. 1 (virtual meeting Nov. 9): Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Lake Michigan meeting, including tracking fish with acoustic telemetry, emerging research on PFAs in Lake Michigan fishes and Indiana DNR fisheries report, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk classroom, Portage, Ind., 6-8:30 p.m. register at

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