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Thursday, 8 November 2012

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A POISONOUS MUSHROOM

The first family of poisonous mushrooms which should be avoided belong to the genus Amanita and produce white spores and a white spore print. Remember that Psilocybe species produce chocolate-brown to purple-brown spores and sporeprints. Copelandia and Panaeolus species produce black spores and spore prints. Amanita species have caps which are scaley. Their stems have a ring near the top of the stem and a large bulbous base at the bottom which may or may not resemble an egg. They are usually found in association with pine and birch trees. Amanita species contain amatoxins and phalatoxins. They will consume your kidney and liver within 5 to 7 days after ingestion and are usually fatal. Many species of the genus Galerina also contain some of the same toxins found in the deadly Amanitas. They too are also very deadly. Some species of Galerina are macroscopically similar to several varieties of Psilocybe mushrooms. The caps of Galerina species vary from chestnut orange to orange rusty-brown. They have a slight ring appearing on their stem. The color of the spores and spore print are a rusty orange brown and their habitat includes woodchips, bark mulch and lawns. In the Pacific Northwest, some species of Galerina have been observed fruiting in and around specimens of Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe stuntzii and Psilocybe baeocystis. As noted above, in 1982, two teen-aged boys and a 16-year-old girl became seriously ill after consuming Galerina mushrooms which they mistook for a species of Psilocybe. The young girl failed to receive proper medical attention in time because she feared that she and her friends, who also became ill, would be prosecuted for their illegal activities involving the illicit use of the mushrooms. Both boys survived the ordeal, yet both have permanent damage to their kidneys and liver. The girl died. Many species of wild mushrooms are known to contain muscarine, a toxin, which when eaten, will cause profuse sweating, severe stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. It is always a good idea to have in ones possession, a book on edible and poisonous mushrooms when collecting in the wild. Recently, a newly reported species of Galerina from Germany Galerina steglichii Besl was identified as a psilocybian mushroom. This in itself is a good reason not to collect Galerina or Inocybe species because of their relationship to many toxic species which contain either amatoxins and or large amounts of muscarine. Since individual humans have different metabolisms, only a small amount of mushrooms should be ingested during an initial experience. After a 24-72 hour period, one can increase or decrease the amount ingested until a desired dosage feels comfortable. Furthermore, any wild collected mushroom which the consumer has suspicions about the identification of such a species, may take them to an expert mycologist at any university or college with either a mycology or botany department. Teachers and students will be more than happy to properly identify any mushroom brought to them for identification.