Mushrooms are enjoyed and eaten by millions of diners around the world. The Pacific Northwest is home to hundreds of wild mushroom species, some of which are safe and delicious. Others, however, can be fatal if eaten. Although safe and edible mushrooms far outnumber poisonous mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, anyone foraging for mushrooms must know which mushrooms to avoid so they do not suffer from “mycetism”, or mushroom poisoning.
Mushrooming is a popular hobby in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the autumn months when many mushrooms are flourishing. However, to really enjoy a meal, hikers, backpackers, and everyone else in the Pacific Northwest should be 100 percent certain of a mushroom’s identification and know which mushrooms to avoid.
Deadly conocybe mushrooms have rust-colored brown gills and conical caps. Also called Pholiotina filaris, these poisonous mushrooms can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, these common mushrooms are often mistaken for Psilocybe, but they contain lethal mycotoxins, which can be deadly if ingested.
Death caps are beautiful, medium to large mushrooms that are often mistaken for safe paddy straw mushrooms. Unfortunately, as their name suggests, death caps are highly toxic, and the deadly mushroom is largely responsible for most incidents of mushroom poisonings in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
Deadly galerina mushrooms may be gorgeous, but they contain a-amanitin, which is a deadly toxin that damages liver cells, the central nervous system, and the kidneys. So, everyone should resist the temptation to pick this beautifully lethal mushroom at all cost.
Also called sponge mushrooms, false morels belong to the genus Gyromitra. They are easily recognizable by their distinctive and intricately folded caps that have a striking resemblance to the human brain. Although they are often mistaken for true morels, some false morels contain mono methyl hydrazine, which is a carcinogen that can induce vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and even death.
With a name like destroying angel, residents of the Pacific Northwest would be wise to avoid this deadly mushroom. Unfortunately, the destroying angel mushroom is one of the most common poisonous mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest. Similar to death caps, destroying angels contain amatoxins, which destroys liver and kidney tissues within mere hours of consumption. Ultimately, those who eat destroying angel mushrooms experience a slow and painful death.
Top image via Rameshng
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