Wild mushrooms too risky

Autumn brings fungi growth

FATAL: The death cap mushroom, often found growing near oak trees. Pictures: TOM MAY/ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS MELBOURNE

FATAL: The death cap mushroom, often found growing near oak trees. Pictures: TOM MAY/ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS MELBOURNE

EXPERTS have warned central Victorians against picking wild mushrooms as the season kicks off.

Early autumn rain has encouraged fungi to flourish in the Bendigo district.

But Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne mycologist Tom May said poisonous mushrooms could look similar to the much-loved field mushroom.

The deadliest mushroom in Victoria is the death cap, responsible for 90 per cent of mushroom poisoning deaths.

"I certainly know that the death cap has been reported from Bendigo," Dr May said.

"It's present in a lot of different suburbs in Melbourne, as well as places like Castlemaine, Gisborne and Bright," he said.

"They grow in lots of places where there are oak trees planted."

Dr May said the most common cause of fungi poisoning in Victoria was the yellow-staining mushroom.

POISON: Yellow-staining mushrooms.

POISON: Yellow-staining mushrooms.

"Most people would be familiar with collecting field mushrooms and would have memories from when they were kids," he said.

"You generally don’t find them in cities anymore because there is not enough nitrogen going into the soil.

"Unfortunately what’s most common in parks and gardens now is the yellow-staining mushroom, which looks very similar to the field mushroom. 

"Most of the fungi poisonings in Victoria are because people confuse yellow-staining and field mushrooms."

Dr May said people should gain expertise if they wanted to identify and eat wild mushrooms safely.

"A lot of people think there are a couple of sorts of fungi out there but actually there are hundreds of different types of mushrooms that grow in parks and gardens," he said.

"Get some books or do a course. There are a lot of subtle characters that you need to look for.

"There are enough cases every year where people make mistakes so you just need to be a bit cautious."

The Department of Health advises against consuming any wild mushroom.

CONFUSING: Poisonous fungi can look edible.

CONFUSING: Poisonous fungi can look edible.

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