My students think of Russula species as cheerful mushrooms that are quite benign. They are often pleasingly colored, make good partners for trees, and have an interesting, brittle texture. Other than being practically impossible to identify, what’s not to like? But in eastern Asia, one Russula species kills half of the people who eat it.
In which a prodigious colony of puffballs consumes my pile of mulch. Yesterday I walked by them at the tail end of a downpour. The last raindrops were generating little snorts of spores like dragon smoke. Go ahead, give them a stomp or two, but don’t inhale puffball spores in excess, people, it will not end well.
Milky caps are distinctive mushrooms that “bleed” milk when you break them. So it’s easy to recognize the genus, Lactarius, but it’s often tricky to identify the drab ones to species. Here’s one that smells like maple syrup, or fenugreek. But although it smells like things you can eat, don’t eat it, or you’ll be sorry.
Since dogs can’t talk very well, it’s often difficult to figure out what’s making them sick. We recently told you about Shiloh, a beautiful dog who died of mushroom poisoning apparently caused by Galerina mushrooms. Now Shiloh’s Veterinarian, Dr. Carolyn Orr, speaks about her role in determining the cause of Shiloh’s rapid decline.
Our guest Tami Mungenast shares the moving story of her dog Shiloh, who died of mushroom poisoning in 2008. Yes, dogs are just as susceptible to poisonous mushrooms as people–in Shiloh’s case a brown Galerina sp. in her yard was the culprit. Warning! Sad.
I was wandering through the Fall woods near Ithaca, New York when I stumbled upon what looked like a delicious surprise… upon closer inspection (and the observations of a trained mycologist), I realized that I had made the amateur mistake of confusing the tasty Chanterelle with the poisonous Jack O’Lantern mushroom Omphalotus illudens…
The destroying angel is a notorious mushroom, because it’s quite deadly. It’s also very handsome and stately. When you are learning mushrooms, this is a good one to learn early on. Spore print color, the annulus, the volva…all these things can help you tell it apart from friendlier mushrooms, if you know what to look for.
In one of our most popular posts, Richard Eshelman tells the story of his near-death experience after eating the destroying angel mushroom, Amanita bisporigera.