Cornell University

mushroom poisoning

A deadly Russula

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.


Puffballs ate my mulch

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.

smells like maple syrup

Lactarius helvus, the maple syrup milky cap

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.

lost dog

A veterinary detective story

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.

Goodbye Shiloh

Eulogy for a lost dog

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.

Toxic jack o'lantern mushrooms

An adventure with Omphalotus

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

deadly angels

The destroying angel

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.

Do not eat

I survived the “Destroying Angel”

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.


Most people don't pay much attention to fungi, which include things like mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews. Here at Cornell we think they're pretty fascinating. In fact, even the most disgusting foot diseases and moldy strawberries are dear to our hearts. We'd like to talk to you about fungi, so that like us, you too can tell gross stories at the dinner table. Afterwards, maybe you'll notice some things you would have overlooked before, and we think this could be good for the planet.

Kathie T. Hodge, Editor

Beneath Notice, our book of borescopic mycology.


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