Poisonous Mushrooms in Northeastern North America

If you are interested in edible mushrooms, you should study this first of all!
A good start to learning about poisonous mushrooms is to read the four pages on mushroom poisoning (pp. 871-874) in The Audubon Guide – abbreviated to AG for the page references below.

It is important to know that there are at least 10 reasons why people get sick from eating EDIBLE mushrooms:
1. Too many mushrooms are eaten – mushrooms are hard to digest; chewing well is advised.
2. Mushrooms are eaten raw or undercooked.
3. Too much butter is used in cooking the mushrooms.
4. Alcohol sometimes causes an adverse reaction when eating mushrooms.
5. The mushrooms are not in good condition; they are in some state of decomposition.
6. Some poisonous mushrooms are inadvertently mixed in with the edibles.
7. A personal allergy can cause anything from GI distress to a rash.
8. A prescription drug (MAO inhibitor) can cause a reaction with particular mushrooms, such as polypores.
9. Edible mushrooms that are badly canned can cause botulism.
10. A GI reaction (cramps, diarrhea) or nausea may occur after a meal, not related to the mushrooms eaten. A pre-existing virus may cause this.

There is also the Fear Factor.  Someone may be eating wild mushrooms at your table for the first time ever, and be petrified, and become, or imagine becoming, ill because of stress.

Mushrooms known to cause death in Northeastern North America: -- photos
    1. Amanita virosa  AG 551
    2. Amanita phalloides AG 543
    3. Galerina autumnalis AG 620
    4. Lepiota josserandii AG 517
    5. Gyromitra esculenta AG 336

Because of the very real possibility of misidentification (for whatever reason) and the very real consequences of severe mushroom poisoning, the following is advised:

Do not eat any Amanitas even though some are known to be edible.
Do not eat any LBM (Little Brown Mushroom).
Do not eat any small species of Lepiota.
Do not eat any large Lepiota without first finding out its spore color. Definitely avoid the green-spored Lepiota, Chlorophyllum molybdites -- it will make you seriously ill. -- photo
Do not eat any Gyromitra (False Morel), at least not when found east of the Mississippi River. -- photo
Do not eat Jack O'Lantern, Omphalotus olearius, mistakenly thinking it is a chanterelle. -- photo
Always keep a fresh specimen in the refrigerator, in case identification is needed for treatment.
Mushrooms to be avoided because a few species in Europe have caused kidney failure and the toxins are found throughout the genus:
    Cortinarius, all species -- AG 610ff.

Mushrooms known to cause muscarine-like symptoms [profuse sweating, tunnel vision] in Northeastern North America:
    1. Clitocybe dealbata AG 745 -- photo
    2. Inocybe, all species AG 626ff. -- photo

Mushrooms known to cause a reaction when alcohol has been consumed up to 72 hours after eating the mushroom:
    1. Coprinus atramentarius AG 596 -- photo
    2. Clitocybe clavipes AG 745 -- photo

Mushroom known to cause disorientation, GI symptoms, muscarine-like symptoms:
    Amanita muscaria  AG 538 -- photo

Mushrooms known to cause transient hallucinations:  photos
    1. Psilocybe caerulipes, and other blue-staining species of Psilocybe AG 719
    2. Gymnopilus spectabilis AG 623

Mushrooms known or suspected to cause mild to severe GI distress:  photos 1-7   photos 8-14
    Gilled Mushrooms:
      1. Agaricus meleagris   AG 507
        2. Amanita gemmata (= A. crenulata) AG 537
        3. Armillaria mellea   AG 736
        4. Chlorophyllum molybdites  AG 509
        5. Entoloma, many species
        6. Hebeloma, all species suspected
        7. Lactarius, many species
        8. Lepiota naucina   AG 519
        9. Naematoloma (= Hypholoma) fasciculare AG 709
       10. Omphalotus olearius   AG 787
       11. Paxillus involutus   AG 671
       12. Russula, several species
       13. Tricholoma, several species
       14. Tricholomopsis platyphylla  AG 807

    Boletes:  photos
        1. Boletus huronensis (in Bessette, North American Boletes)
        2. Boletus (= Chalciporus) piperatus AG 571
        3. Boletus sensibilis   AG 567
        4. Boletus, some species with red pore-mouths
        5. Suillus luteus (can be laxative) AG 586
        6. Tylopilus eximius   AG 592

    Other Mushrooms:  photos
        1. Morels eaten raw   AG 326
        2. Gomphus floccosus     AG 396
        3. Ramaria formosa and possibly other coral fungi  AG 408
        4. Scleroderma citrinum     AG 839
        5. Calvatia gigantea, occasionally reported.  AG 823

Poisonous mushrooms and harmless look-alikes: Line drawings & photos --
Recent reports of mushroom poisoning from edible mushrooms (March 2005)

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