Top 8 Poisonous Mushrooms to Avoid

Mushrooms are a beloved and versatile food enjoyed by many around the world. But did you know that some species of mushrooms can be deadly poisonous, causing severe illness or even death? With thousands of mushroom species growing in different parts of the world, it’s essential to know which ones to avoid.

In this article, we’ll explore ten of the most poisonous mushrooms on the planet, their toxic properties, and the potentially fatal effects they can have on the human body. Read on to learn more about these fascinating, but dangerous, fungi.

Death Cap

death cap mushrooms

The death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, is a highly toxic fungus responsible for numerous deaths worldwide. It’s found in many parts of Europe, Asia, and North America and is often associated with oak, chestnut, and hazelnut trees. The death cap’s appearance can vary, but it typically has a smooth, olive-green or yellow-brown cap, a white stem, and a membranous skirt-like ring around the stem. Its gills are white, and the flesh is firm and white.

One of the most distinctive features of the death cap is its sac-like cup, which surrounds the base of the stem. It’s essential to avoid consuming any mushroom that resembles the death cap, as its toxins can cause severe liver and kidney damage and can be fatal.

Destroying Angel

destroying angel mushroom

The destroying angel mushroom, Amanita virosa, is one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world. It contains amatoxins, which can cause severe liver and kidney damage and often lead to death. The destroying angel can be found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America, and is commonly associated with deciduous trees.

This mushroom’s cap is usually white or creamy, and its stem is white, long, and slender, with a prominent bulb at the base. Its gills are white and closely spaced, and its spores are also white. The destroying angel is often mistaken for edible mushrooms, such as the meadow mushroom or the parasol mushroom, but it lacks their distinctive features, such as an annular ring on the stem.

Deadly Dapperling

deadly dapperling

The deadly dapperling, also known as Lepiota brunneoincarnata, is a highly toxic mushroom found in North America and Europe. It contains amatoxins, the same lethal toxins found in the death cap mushroom.

The deadly dapperling’s cap is typically tan or brownish, with tiny reddish-brown scales on the surface, and its stem is white, thin, and long. Its gills are white, and the spores are white or pale yellow. The deadly dapperling is often confused with the edible shaggy parasol mushroom, which has a similar appearance.

However, the deadly dapperling’s gills are free from the stem, while the shaggy parasol’s gills are attached to the stem. It’s essential to be able to distinguish between the two mushrooms to avoid the risk of poisoning.

Funeral Bell

funeral bell mushroom

The funeral bell mushroom, also known as Galerina marginata, is a deadly fungus often found growing on dead wood, particularly conifers. The mushroom’s cap is brownish-yellow or brownish-orange, and its stem is thin, long, and brownish-yellow. The gills are closely spaced and dark brown, and the spores are rusty brown.

The mushroom contains amatoxins, the same toxins found in the death cap mushroom, which can cause severe liver and kidney damage and even death.

Panther Cap

The Panther Cap mushroom, also known as Amanita pantherina, is a highly poisonous species of mushroom that can cause severe illness or even death if ingested. This mushroom is native to parts of Europe and North America, and it is commonly found growing in deciduous and coniferous forests.

The Panther Cap mushroom contains a potent neurotoxin called ibotenic acid, which can cause a range of symptoms when ingested, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, dizziness, confusion, delirium, and hallucinations. In severe cases, it can also lead to convulsions, coma, and respiratory failure, which can be fatal.

One of the dangerous aspects of the Panther Cap mushroom is that its toxins are not destroyed by cooking, and even a small amount of the mushroom can be lethal. This means that it’s crucial to be able to identify this mushroom correctly and avoid eating it at all costs.

Satanic Mushroom

satanic mushrooms

The Satanic mushroom, also known as Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, is a highly toxic species of mushroom that is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s closely related to the more widely known and iconic Amanita muscaria mushroom, which is often depicted in fairy tales and folklore as a magical and enchanted mushroom.

The Satanic mushroom contains a number of toxic compounds, including ibotenic acid and muscimol, which can cause a range of symptoms when ingested. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, sweating, headaches, confusion, hallucinations, and in severe cases, seizures, and coma. The toxins in the Satanic mushroom can affect the central nervous system, leading to a range of neurological symptoms.

One of the dangers of the Satanic mushroom is that it is often confused with other, non-toxic species of mushrooms, particularly the edible Caesar’s mushroom. This can make it easy for inexperienced mushroom hunters to accidentally pick and consume the toxic Satanic mushroom.

Little Death Cap

The Little Death Cap mushroom, also known as Amanita phalloides var. parva, is a highly poisonous species of mushroom that is found in Europe and parts of Asia. It’s a smaller version of the better-known Death Cap mushroom, which is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world.

The Little Death Cap mushroom contains a potent cocktail of toxic compounds, including alpha-amanitin and phallotoxins, which can cause severe liver and kidney damage when ingested. Symptoms of poisoning may not appear until 6-24 hours after ingestion, and can include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, liver failure, kidney failure, and in severe cases, coma and death.

One of the dangers of the Little Death Cap mushroom is that it can be easily mistaken for edible mushroom species, particularly in the early stages of growth. The mushroom has a small cap and a white to yellowish stem, which can resemble many other small mushroom species. Additionally, the mushroom has no distinct odor or taste, making it difficult to identify by smell or taste.

Deadly Webcap

deadly webcap

The Deadly Webcap mushroom, or Cortinarius rubellus, is a highly poisonous species of mushroom. It’s one of the most deadly mushrooms in the world, with toxins that can cause irreversible kidney damage and can even be fatal if ingested in large enough quantities.

The Deadly Webcap mushroom contains the toxin orellanine, which is a nephrotoxin that can cause kidney failure when ingested. Symptoms of poisoning may not appear until several days after ingestion and can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration, which can progress to acute kidney failure.

The Deadly Webcap mushroom is that it can be easily mistaken for edible mushroom species, particularly in the early stages of growth. The mushroom has a reddish-brown cap and a pale stem with a distinctive web-like veil. The cap can appear wrinkled or convex, and the gills underneath are initially yellow before turning reddish-brown as the mushroom matures.

Signs and Symptoms of Mushroom Toxicity

poisonous mushrooms

The signs and symptoms of mushroom poisoning can vary depending on the type of mushroom ingested and the amount consumed. However, some common symptoms of mushroom poisoning include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours after ingestion, depending on the type of mushroom consumed. Some species of mushrooms, such as the Death Cap, may cause a delay in symptoms, with symptoms not appearing until 6 to 12 hours after ingestion.

It’s important to note that some toxic mushrooms may not produce symptoms right away, but can cause serious damage to the liver or kidneys over time. For this reason, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that you or someone else has ingested a poisonous mushroom, even if symptoms have not yet appeared.

What to Do If You Ingest Poisonous Mushrooms

some mushroom

If you or someone you know has ingested poisonous mushrooms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Here are some steps to take:

  • Call emergency services: Dial the emergency number in your country or region, such as 911 in the United States, 999 in the United Kingdom, or 112 in most European countries. Explain the situation and provide as much information as possible about the type of mushroom ingested, if known.
  • Try to identify the mushroom: If you have any remaining portions of the mushroom, take them with you to the hospital. This can help medical professionals identify the type of mushroom and determine the best course of treatment.
  • Do not induce vomiting: While it may be tempting to induce vomiting to get rid of the poisonous substance, this can actually make things worse in some cases. Vomiting can cause the toxins to spread further into the body and potentially cause more damage.
  • Drink water: If the person who ingested the mushroom is conscious and able to drink, encourage them to drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxins.
  • Follow medical advice: Once at the hospital, follow the advice of medical professionals. Treatment for mushroom poisoning may include induced vomiting, activated charcoal to absorb the toxins, or in severe cases, dialysis or liver transplant.

Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid mushroom poisoning. If you’re not an experienced mushroom hunter, it’s best to purchase mushrooms from a reputable source or rely on experts to help you identify safe species in the wild.

FAQs about Poisonous Mushrooms

1. What happens if you touch a death cap mushroom?

Touching a Death Cap mushroom typically does not cause any immediate symptoms, but be sure to wash your hands thoroughly to avoid accidental ingestion.

2. Are backyard mushrooms poisonous?

Some backyard mushrooms can be poisonous, so it’s important to properly identify mushrooms before consuming or touching them.

3. What mushrooms should you not touch?

It’s best to avoid touching any wild mushrooms unless you are an experienced mushroom hunter who can confidently identify safe species.

4. What edible mushrooms do death caps look like?

Death Cap mushrooms can be easily confused with edible mushrooms such as Paddy Straw and Caesar’s Mushroom, making identification by an expert important.

5. Is the black part of mushroom edible?

The black part of a mushroom is typically the spores, which are not toxic but also not typically consumed by humans.

Wrapping Up

while mushrooms can be a delicious and nutritious addition to many meals, it’s important to exercise caution when consuming them, particularly if you are foraging for wild mushrooms. Many species of mushrooms can be toxic or deadly if ingested, and even experienced mushroom hunters can make mistakes in identifying them.

To minimize the risk of accidental poisoning, it’s important to only consume mushrooms that you have purchased from a reputable source or that you can confidently identify as safe to eat. If you are foraging for wild mushrooms, be sure to do so with an experienced guide or after extensive research into identifying safe and toxic species.

By exercising caution and staying informed about the potential dangers of poisonous mushrooms, you can enjoy the culinary delights of this unique food while keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.