More Mushroom Mistakes


not A. xerodermusHere’s one from a book noted for a few pictorial errors ( even experts have the occasional oops) a toxic mushroom agaricus xanthodermus .

Mushrooms and Toadstools of Australia. Shepherd, CJ & Totterdall, CJ. Inkata Press, Melbourne & Sydney, 1988

A short introductory section on fungi in general is followed by the identification keys and species descriptions. There are numerous colour photographs, though a number of these are misidentified.

I wonder if he labelled this picture incorrectly? the ring looks single and the top has a bump in it ( umbonate).

It actually looks more like this – double ring, almost cube shaped when young, flat or with a dent ( not a bump ) in the top and nice pink to chocolate brown gills just like a field mushroom except you will notice it developing very bright yellow staining on any damaged bits – especially the base of the stalk if you cut it (and according to the books a nasty smell of phenol esp. when cooked ) Just to confuse you more some edibles can stain a bit yellow – so ‘when in doubt leave it out’)

A very common mushroom mistake in australia is picking agaricus xanthodermus, the “yellow stainer” instead of a tasty field mushroom . In urban areas it is more common than the edible species.
There were quite a few mushroom myths debunked at the Fungimap Debate  ( including the myth that it is foolhardy to go mushroom hunting 🙂  Several people have told me how to identify an edible mushroom but never completely by telling me ALL the features to look for AND mentioning all possible confusables – “if the cap peels easily, if the gills are brown, if it smells pleasant and mushroomy or grows on wood it is safe to eat.” None of these guarantee edibility as a single criterion – some poisonous mushrooms also smell yummy and the bit about growing on wood is downright wrong as the Deadly Galerina is a woodrotter. You must be aware of look-a-likes in your area for any species you intend to eat.  Not even the guide books I have consulted mention them all. Here’s a really good rundown of some of the local confusables for field mushrooms by Morrie – Hebeloma ( poison pie mushroom – no ring on stem)

Psathyrella sp. (thin hollow stem) and Cortinarius sp, ( orange, rusty spore print). Do your own research. Check for Australian data. Don’t skip the spore print. (it may only take a half hour to get some off a chunk of a mature mushroom as you drive home from your foray if you bring a good sized tupperware box and the paper along)

Tasmanian Fungi Experts – contact mycologists at UTAS

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne fungi identification services

Amanita Phalloides in Australia – Death Cap information

In a poisoning emergency phone
13 11 26
24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
Australia wide

Poisoning by Amanita phalloides (“deathcap”) mushrooms in the Australian Capital Territory – 7 poisoning case studies and an interesting discussion

Detailed treatment information for amatoxin poisoning for those who want to really know the gory details.

Personally I’m not impressed with their reasons given for not using thiotic acid (alpha lipoic acid). Surely the biggest mushroom mistake when you have no other options is to not try the ‘unproven’ one? The literature citing success in several human cases is not going away just because it doesn’t work experimentally in mouse and dog models, and it’s neither expensive nor difficult to administer or even particularly toxic in its own right.
Berkson B. Thioctic acid in treatment of hepatotoxic mushroom poisoning. New England Journal of Medicine. 1979;300:371. Dr Berkson’s book on the subject

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