Toxic Mushrooms

This resource details out the most commonly misidentified mushrooms and the ones to make sure you avoid. Only a few mushrooms will kill you; most will just make you wish you were dead. Species such as the poison pie, destroying angel, the devil's bolete and the sickener get their names for a good reason. What makes things particularly tricky for foragers is that many edible mushrooms are so similar to toxic varieties that only an expert can tell the difference. Below are some tips to help you avoid the worst of a bad bunch:

  1. Unfamiliar species. Check and re-check your identification, especially looking out for a similar poisonous species. If still in doubt, ask an expert or throw it away.
  2. Examine each specimen. Always check each specimen in case a different species has got in amongst your collection of edible ones.
  3. Keep your collections separate. Do not mix edible and non-edible species in a collecting tray if you are collecting for the pot. It is a good idea if collecting for the pot to only collect edible species and not other species for identification purposes.
  4. Check the spore print. A simple operation, leaving a cap on some paper and covering for an hour or so. This will help check your identification.
  5. Do not eat raw wild fungi. Some wild fungi are poisonous if eaten raw, e.g. Wood Blewit, Lepista nuda, the Blusher, Amanita rubescens or species of Helvella. Always cook your collections.
  6. Retain an uncooked specimen. This is a very sensible idea. Keep one example of what you have eaten in the fridge. In case, you do poison yourself, this will help others identify what you have eaten and therefore know how to treat you. Different species contain different toxins, therefore treatments will vary.
  7. Only eat good specimens. Many poisoning cases occur when edible species are eaten in poor condition, look out for rot or old mushrooms and only eat, what you think are good specimens!
  8. Keep your collections in the fridge. This protects your mushrooms from mould and keeps your specimens in good condition.
  9. Experimenting. If experimenting and eating a type for the first time, only eat a small amount. Different people react to fungi in different ways and it is safer to test your own body out gently!
  10. Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol with species you haven't eaten before and with certain species, e.g. the Common Ink Cap, Coprinus atramentarius.
  11. Fear. Do not feed wild mushrooms to people who don't want to eat them. Fear can make people sick.
  12. Susceptible people. Do not serve wild fungi to young children, old or sick people. Their resistance may be lower.
  13. Greed. Do not large quantities of wild mushrooms in one sitting. This alone can make you sick.

Last modified: Friday, 3 March 2017, 4:00 AM