Poisonous mushrooms grow around Victoria, especially during the autumn months.
The Yellow-staining mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus) is the most commonly-eaten poisonous mushroom in Victoria.
Consuming the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) may result in death.
Unless you are an expert, do not pick and consume wild mushrooms in Victoria.
There is no ‘home test’ that can help you tell the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.
It is recommended that you only eat mushrooms you’ve bought from the supermarket, greengrocer or another reputable source.
Symptoms include severe gastrointestinal upsets such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
If the person who has eaten the mushroom has collapsed, stopped breathing, is having a fit or is suffering an anaphylactic reaction, immediately ring triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
If you suspect you or your child may have eaten a poisonous mushroom, don’t wait for symptoms to occur before seeking medical attention. Contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre for advice (Tel 13 11 26).
Mushrooms are a type of fungus. Australia has many varieties of wild-growing fungi, many of which are edible. However, a few types are poisonous or even deadly.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no home test that can distinguish between edible and poisonous varieties. The only way to tell whether a wild mushroom is safe to eat is to have it identified by a mushroom expert (mycologist).
If you are unsure if a mushroom is safe to eat, don’t eat it. It is recommended that you only eat mushrooms you have bought from the supermarket, greengrocer or another reputable source.
A video featuring Dr Brett Sutton, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and Dr Teresa Lebel, Senior Mycologist, Botanic Gardens Adelaide, shows the need to be aware of the dangers of Death Cap mushrooms and other poisonous mushrooms.
The VPIC staff member will take a brief history from you and give you the appropriate advice. It may be necessary for you to seek treatment through your doctor or the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
It helps to have a sample of the mushroom. VPIC staff may ask you to send them a photo of the wild mushroom to help in the species identification and risk assessment.
If the person has collapsed, stopped breathing, is having a fit or is suffering an anaphylactic reaction, immediately ring triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
Do not ring the Victorian Poisons Information Centre in an emergency.
Effects of poisonous mushrooms
The 3 main effects of poisonous mushrooms are:
Some mushroom species contain toxins that cause hallucinations. These psychotropic types are commonly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’. One of the better known species is the golden top (Psilocybe subaeruginosa). Apart from hallucinations, other effects include:
The toxin can fatally harm the liver and kidneys, and death can occur within 48 hours. Other mushrooms that have a similar effect to the Death Cap include some species of Galerina, Lepiota and Conocybe.
Poisonous mushrooms in Victoria
The Yellow-staining mushroom and the Death Cap are 2 poisonous mushrooms that grow in Victoria.
Yellow-staining Mushroom (Agaricus Xanthodermus). Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, photographer Tom May.
The Yellow-staining mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus) is the most commonly-eaten poisonous mushroom in Victoria. This species commonly grows wild in lawns and gardens, and looks very similar to edible mushrooms.
Mushrooms grow on the ground in clusters, often clumped or in ‘fairy rings’.
The cap is 50–200 mm in diameter.
The cap is usually white, but can become brown with age.
The cap of young mushrooms looks a little square.
When damaged, the cap and stem stain yellow, fading later to a dirty brown.
The mushroom can give-off a chemical smell, like disinfectant, iodine or kerosene. This smell can be even stronger if you cook them.
If eaten, symptoms of Yellow-staining mushroom poisoning include:
diarrhoea (usually within 30 minutes to 2 hours of consumption).
Less common symptoms include headache, dizziness, sweating and drowsiness.
Death Cap mushroom
Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, photographer Tom May.
The Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is potentially fatal if eaten.
Mushrooms typically grow under oak trees.
The cap is 40–160 mm in diameter.
The cap ranges in colour from pale yellow to green to olive brown.
The gills (ridges on the underside of the cap) are white.
The base of the stem has a membranous ‘cup’.
Onset of symptoms is anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after ingestion.
Death may occur from liver and kidney damage.
One mushroom can contain enough poison to kill an average-sized adult.
Cooking, peeling, drying or soaking the mushroom does not make the mushroom edible.
Protect your children from mushroom poisoning
Many varieties of poisonous mushroom grow wild in Victoria. Most young children who eat poisonous mushrooms find them in the garden at home. Children younger than 5 years of age have a natural inclination to put things in their mouths. If you have a toddler, regularly check your garden for mushrooms and remove them to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning.
Protect your pets from mushroom poisoning
Pet owners should take particular care when walking their pets in areas where mushrooms may grow. Where possible, remove any mushrooms from your yard before they have a chance to eat them. Dogs are more likely than cats to ingest mushrooms.
Pets can develop a range of illness from eating wild mushrooms, including a gastroenteritis-type syndrome to severe life-threatening disease and death.
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