VICTORIA’S acting chief health officer, professor Michael Ackland, has warned against gathering wild mushrooms as fungi season damps up.
Above: Dr Lebel and Prof Ackland inspect a Death Cap mushroom. Photos supplied by the Victorian Government.
In a media release, Prof Ackland said everyone in the state should be careful of poisonous mushrooms, especially the Death Cap and Yellow Staining mushrooms.
“People should avoid gathering wild mushrooms around Melbourne, in rural Victoria and from their own gardens because of the risk of collecting poisonous varieties which may appear very similar to edible varieties,” he said.
“While commercially-sold mushrooms are safe, poisonings can occur when people gathering wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic species.
“Anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice and, if possible, take samples of the whole mushroom for identification.
“The most dangerous variety is the Death Cap, usually found near deciduous trees, especially around oaks, in some Melbourne suburbs and rural areas.
“The Death Cap is extremely toxic and responsible for 90 per cent of all mushroom poisoning deaths. Death can follow within 48 hours.
“If you have any doubts about a species of fungus or mushroom, don’t eat it.”
Recent rains have made for perfect fungi growing conditions.
“The Death Cap appears any time from January to June, but is most common a week or two after good rains in summer and early autumn,” Royal Botanic Gardens senior mycologist Doctor Teresa Lebel said in a media release.
Death Cap mushrooms are large, with cap colour ranging from light olive green to greenish yellow. Their gills are white and the base of the stem is surrounded by a cup-shaped sac.
The cap and stem of the Yellow Staining mushroom turn yellow when bruised with a thumbnail.
Both can be found alongside field mushrooms.
Above: a Death Cap mushroom.
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