Fungi are neither plants nor animals but belong to their own kingdom. They are unable to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis, as plants do; instead, they acquire nutrients from living or dead plants, animals, or other fungi, as animals do. In many larger fungi (lichens excepted) the only visible parts are the fruit bodies, which arise from a largely unseen network of threads called 'hyphae'. These hyphae permeate the fungus's food source, which may be soil, leaf litter, rotten wood, dung, and so on, depending on the species (4).
The fly agaric is found from August to November in Europe, and from June to October in North America (3). It grows solitarily or in scattered groups (2). Fly agaric is eaten by reindeers, and is associated with Christmas in many parts of Europe. It has even been suggested that the use of fly agaric in midwinter festivals in Siberia may have been the inspiration for some of the features of Santa Clause, including his red and white robes, use of chimneys and his association with flying reindeer (5).