IDEAL growing conditions for poisonous mushrooms has prompted a warning from Victoria’s deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Michael Ackland
The warning coincides with the arrival of the mushrooming season, which begins when rain encourages growth of the fungi in the still warm earth.
“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,” Dr Ackland said.
He identified the dangers of two of the state’s most dangerous varieties, the death cap fungus and the yellow staining mushroom.
“Poisonings can occur when people gathering wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic species,” Dr Ackland said. The most dangerous variety is the death cap, found near deciduous trees, in particular oak trees.
The death cap is a large mushroom with a cap ranging from light olive green to greenish yellow in colour.
“The death cap is extremely toxic and responsible for 90 per cent of all mushroom poisoning deaths. Death can follow within 48 hours,” Dr Ackland said.
Dr Ackland said the commonly found mushroom turns yellow when the cap or stem is bruised by a thumbnail.
“If you have any doubts about a species of fungus or mushroom, don’t eat it.”