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Your Guide to Mushroom Hunting and Poisonous Mushrooms: Don’t Know, Don’t Eat It:

As the old saying goes… “Every mushroom is edible, but some only once.”

True or false? Mushrooms are a type of vegetable. Let’s find out!

Mushrooms have nutritional value, they are low in calories, high in potassium, fiber, phosphorus and B vitamins. They also contain small amounts of high quality proteins. But, did you know that mushrooms are actually a fungus. Fungi are as different from plants as plants are from animals.

The number of different fungi species exceeds 1 million, however, only a small amount of fungi actually produce mushrooms. Think of mushrooms as the “fruit” produced by fungi, much like a cherry is grown from a cherry tree. There are mushrooms that are edible, but also mushrooms that can cause illness ranging from abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, to severe effects involving liver and kidney damage and even death.

Wild mushroom hunting, or foraging, is a popular hobby, but mushroom identification is tricky. Toxic and nontoxic mushrooms can grow side by side, and many mushrooms that can make you sick look just like edible mushrooms. At the Missouri Poison Center, we trust only trained mycologists for accurate identification. It is true, there are many resources available to those who forage mushrooms, but our best advice is to NEVER pick and eat wild mushrooms unless they’ve been identified by an expert. The best prevention against mushroom poisonings is to assume that all wild mushrooms are poisonous.

Poison Prevention Tips: wild mushrooms

  • If you are going to eat wild mushrooms make certain they are identified by an expert. If you are not quite sure if it is edible – a good motto is “when in doubt, throw it out”.
  • Cooking a mushroom does not make it safe to eat. Actually, with some mushrooms, just breathing in the cooking fumes can cause a poisoning.
  • Even if you feel certain of your mushroom identification, it is best to use caution when eating them for the first time. Eat only one species at a time, and in small amounts, even non-poisonous mushrooms can cause unpleasant reactions.
  • Symptoms from a toxic mushroom can be delayed for many hours.
  • Children should be taught never to touch or eat wild mushrooms. Check for mushroom growth in your yard before letting children out to play.
  • The best way to keep very young children safe from mushroom poisoning is to watch them closely outdoors.
  • If you have any questions about a person who has eaten a wild mushroom or they are experiencing symptoms, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.
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