Poisonings from Edible Mushrooms!
report on a few new kinds of mushroom poisoning
Hanna gave a presentation on mushroom poisoning at our
annual Winter Lecture Series at the American Museum of Natural History
Sunday, March 13, 2005. She covered the basics, of course, and went
detail about newly reported cases of mushroom poisoning caused by
kinds. She reviewed the data that have been compiled about mushrooms
such as Tricholoma flavovirens (Man on Horseback), Pleurocybella
Wings) and the disjunct pair Clitocybe amoenolens (the Perfume
Morocco & southern Europe) and Clitocybe acromelalga (of Japan).
gleaned from Hanna Tschekunow’s
NYMS talk on mushroom poisoning (3/13/05) at the Museum of Natural
by Gary Lincoff 2005
FLAVOVIRENS [Man on Horseback]
equestre, as it is known in Europe, has caused poisonings in
France where it is found in sandy soil under pine trees. The kind of
it causes is called rhabdomyolysis (where the iron containing red
myoglobin leaks out of muscle cells and into the blood. As myoglobin
it produces kidney toxins that, untreated, can lead to kidney failure.)
Symptoms in one case in which the mushrooms were eaten at several
meals caused fatigue, muscle weakness (muscles stiffened), myalgia,
appetite, mild nausea, and profuse sweating. In most cases there is
red-brown coloration of the urine.
are several questions involved in this kind of poisoning. The first is
the mushroom causing the poisoning in southwestern France, called
Tricholoma equestre, is the same as the mushroom we collect and eat in
country, also growing in sandy soils and under pine, and which we call
flavovirens. Some DNA studies have suggested that they are not the
same. In any
case, there have been no mushroom poisonings from this mushroom
reported in the
U.S. Another question has to do with repeated meals. Every case
involves eating the mushroom over several meals, again and again. If
this is an
essential component of the poisoning, a single meal might be delicious
harmless, and enough.
PORRIGENS [Angel’s Wings]
Wings, Pleurocybella porrigens, is another well-known and well-liked
mushroom. One recent article about poisoning caused by eating this
said, in part: “In September and October, 2004, an outbreak of
of unknown etiology ocurred in certain areas of Japan…These patients
history of chronic renal failure, most of them had undergone
also had a history of eating Sugihiratake (Pleurocybella porrigens), an
without known toxicity. Each patient had a history of eating the
2-3 weeks of the onset of neurological symptoms…The onset was subacute;
initial symptoms were tremor…weakness of the extremities, consciousness
disturbance and intractable seizures…Three to eight days after onset,
conspicuous lesions appeared in (the cerebral cortex area of the
cases studied, three patients died at 13, 14 and 29 days after onset.”
other 7 recovered, but only 3 recovered completely, the others showing
different symptoms lingering for different periods of time.
Japan, in 2004, it was hotter than usual, it rained a lot in August,
Pleurocybella porrigens came up in early September, earlier than usual,
both very abundant and twice their usual size. Individual caps had
size of an adult human palm. The mushrooms grow in stumps in pine and
trees. By early November, scattered over 8 prefectures in Japan, there
cases of brain illnesses from these mushrooms, and 14 deaths.
poisonings from this mushroom have been reported in the U.S. or
to date. A pre-existing kidney condition appears to be required. Brain
appear to be the proximate cause of death.
AMOENOLENS & CLITOCYBE ACROMELALGA
hitherto unknown poisonous mushroom has been reported from Europe. The
is known as Clitocybe amoenolens. It looks like Clitocybe inversa, and
also said to resemble Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. The poisoning appears
the same as that caused by Clitocybe acromelalga in Japan. The article,
on the web, as are many articles on mushroom poisoning, said, in part: “Seven cases (of Clitocybe
amoenolens poisoning) observed and
followed over 4 years are reported. All ill patients had eaten the same
mushroom species, gathered in the same French alpine valley. Clinical
of erythromelalgia were observed. This syndrome was first described in
after Clitocybe acromelalga ingestion. It had never been observed in
before.” Erythromelalgia is a maldistribution of blood flow with some
getting enough blood and calling for more. Extra blood gets through
vessels…This continues until the appearance of the skin shows too much
flow…The skin, especially of the hands and feet, appears and remains
and feels warm to hot to the touch, and these symptoms are painful.
avoid warm weather, some need to have their legs elevated for extended
of time, and some are confined to bed. Symptoms can last for months.
can be affected. Even the tip of the nose can be affected. No specific
treatment is known to be effective. Pain relievers, such as aspirin, or
aspirin-free analgesics, are taken as needed.
mushroom is not known to exist
in the U.S., but it and closely related species that can cause this
poisoning might very well occur here as well. For our area, besides
looking like the
false chanterelle, Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, it also looks somewhat
Clitocybe gibba, except that Clitocybe amoenolens is much more colorful
(with orange or rusty pigments) and distinctly fragrant (perfume like).
Conclusion: This is not an
article to tell you not to eat
edible mushrooms. Rather, you should be aware of a couple of things you
have ignored in the past. First, if you find a large quantity of a
you eat multiple meals with that mushroom, you may be taking a risk you
not be taking with a single meal. Second, if you have a pre-existing
condition, or possibly involving some other organ in the body, you may
know more about what you are eating before you join in with everyone
collect something for the table. Third, if you have learned to
the really important poisonous mushrooms and you have concluded that
else is, well, if not edible, not dangerous, shelve that idea. There
innocuous-looking mushrooms out there that can cause long lasting pain.
if you have any existing medical condition, be aware that you have to
careful than others, and everyone has to know the mushroom he is
everyone should eat mushrooms in moderation.
One last scary story to keep you up at night. A man with
AIDs cooked some edible Coprinus cinereus to eat. A spore from that
got into his mouth and germinated in an open wound. He had become a
The mushroom mycelium grew through him, and he died. An epidemiologist
with about this case assured me that this will only happen to AIDs
patients in a very late stage of the disease. Medicines being taken now
HIV/AIDs can prevent this from happening at earlier stages. I guess
comfort of a sort. But to die from cooking an edible mushroom!
more complex and more opportunistic than many of us ever give them
being. Caveat emptor et collector!