There are more than 250 types of poisonous mushrooms in the United States alone (not all are 100% fatal). Many deadly/poisonous mushrooms resemble their non poisonous counter parts almost identically.
It is very important that you understand how to identify the healthy ones from the toxic ones especially if you are a forager who enjoys hunting wild mushrooms.
Even if you aren’t a forager it good to understand at least the most common types of poisonous mushrooms just in case a family member or animal accidentally eats one. It could literally mean life or death if you don’t act quickly.
Lets start this article with a list of the world most poisonous mushrooms that are responsible for the most deaths each and every year…
The 6 Poisonous Mushrooms that Cause the Most Deaths Every Year
1) Deadly Dapperling – A gilled mushroom that contains amatoxins. It can be found all around Europe and some areas in Asia. This mushroom can easily be mistaken for edible varieties. Accidental consumption can lead to severe liver toxicity and also death if there is no immediate treatment.
2) Podostroma cornu-damae – While considered rare, this type of fungus is responsible for a lot of deaths in Korea and Japan. It has a red fruiting body that can cause multiple organ failures if ingested. This is due to a toxin called the trichothecene mycotoxin.
3) Destroying Angels – Destroying Angels is a collective name for a number of all-white mushrooms under the genus Amanita. They are very similar to edible button mushrooms and some meadow mushrooms and they can easily be collected by mistake.
One of these, called the Amanita bisporigera, is considered to be the most toxic mushroom in North America. It takes 5 to 24 hours for the symptoms to appear and will include vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems, and possibly death if not attended to right away.
4) Deadly Webcaps – There are two types of poisonous webcaps; the deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus) and the fool’s webcap (Cortinarius orellanus). They are similar in appearance and also look like other edible mushrooms.
The poison in webcaps is called Orellanin, and can cause flu-like symptoms. The symptoms appear anywhere from 2 days to 3 weeks leading to people believing it’s not from a mushroom. Severe cases of webcap poisoning can lead to kidney failure.
5) Conocybe filaris – An innocent looking lawn mushroom common in the Pacific Northwest, Conocybe filaris contains the same mycotoxins as the dreaded death cap mushroom. The symptoms often appear as stomach flu or food poisoning.
The catch is that most patients appear to recover from the episode only to end up with more severe case of stomach pain and often coupled with kidney and liver failure.
6) Death Cap – Death Cap mushrooms are easily the most dangerous in the lot as it kills and poisons more people every year than any other type of mushroom. The Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) looks, feels, smells, and even tastes like any other edible mushroom out there and its dreaded effects don’t kick in right away.
It may take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours before you can feel its effect. It may start with paralyzing abdominal cramps, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. However, this is just the start.
As soon as you ingest the mushroom, 60 percent of its amatoxin (the compound in the mushroom that is dangerous) goes straight to your liver while the remaining 40 percent go to your kidneys. There, they wreak havoc ending up in kidney and liver failure if not attended to right away.
Today, there are available solutions for amatoxin poisoning. Which helps lessen the symptoms.
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Most Common Questions About Poisonous Mushrooms
What Are Poisonous Mushrooms?
To date, there are over 14,000 different species of mushrooms from all over the world. Out of those, there are about less than 100 that can be fatal when ingested. In their very essence, both edible and poisonous mushrooms are the same.
It’s just that poisonous mushrooms contain toxins and compounds that can cause negative effects on human beings. The effects range from a bad stomach, permanent liver damage to death. It’s estimated that anywhere from 10 to 60 people die from eating poisonous mushrooms a year in the United States.
How Do You Identify a Poisonous Mushroom from an Edible One?
There’s no real “one-size-fits-all” approach in identifying poisonous mushrooms. You might have heard a lot of folk tales regarding them like “poisonous mushrooms are brightly colored” or that “animals and insects avoid poisonous mushrooms” but they are not definite rules.
However, there are some basic characteristics you can look for in a mushroom to know if it is poisonous or not. While they don’t work 100%, the worst thing that can happen is that you missed out on a tasty treat but are still alive.
For starters, mushrooms with white gills are often poisonous. You should also be wary of mushrooms with a ring around the stem and those that have a volva. Most mushrooms that are red in color (either cap or stem) is either poisonous or are strongly hallucinogenic.
How Can I Lower My Chances of Eating Poisonous Mushrooms?
When mushroom hunting in the wild, it pays to be really cautious when picking mushrooms. As what I have mentioned above, there are not set guidelines in identifying a poisonous mushroom from an edible one.
The best way to identify them is through the use of a field guide that contains images of mushrooms during different stages. This allows you to effectively identify a mushroom and on what stage it is. A field guide also contains information on whether they are safe to eat or not.
If you really like mushrooms, it might be a better idea to grow them yourself instead of trying your luck with wild mushrooms. You can get affordable mushroom cultivation kits that include everything you need to grow your own mushrooms. They are 100% safe and they will taste extra delicious all because you grew them yourself.
The world is full of hundreds of different types of poisonous mushrooms but there a 6 that seem to be causing the deaths overall. The tricky thing about getting poisoned by most mushrooms is a lot of the time the symptoms don’t kick in until weeks after the person ate the mushroom.
By the times the person starts to feel the symptoms of mushroom poisoning the damage is already done and they are doomed to die. Being able to identify at least the 6 most common types of poisonous mushrooms will hopefully allow you to know if a family member has eating one before the damage gets to bad.