Fly agaric is regularly associated with fairies and magical creatures in stories but is highly toxic. Did you know that it was common on Christmas cards in Victorian and Edwardian times as a symbol of good luck and its colours are thought to have been the inspiration for Santa Claus's red and white suit? It grows in woodland and heathland on light soils among birch, pine or spruce and helps them grow by giving them water and nutrients and in return the plants give the fungi sugars that they have made using energy from the sunlight. The 'spots' are remnants of the white veil of tissue that at first enclosed the young mushroom and are sometimes washed off by the rain.
We have organised a fungi walk with local experts from the Bucks Fungi Group this autumn http://www.bucksfungusgroup.org.uk/ to find out more about the different types of fungi we can find around Marlow - something to look forward to post-lockdown! In the meantime, there are some interesting pages on the British Mycological Society to help with home schooling https://www.britmycolsoc.org.uk/mycokids