Wild mushrooms

Autumn is here and that means it is mushroom growing and foraging season.

There are hundreds of different species of mushrooms and it can be difficult to identify them. Experienced foragers recommend that you should never eat a mushrom unless you are 100% sure you have identified it correctly.

Every year we receive calls about accidental ingestion of mushrooms.  Children may take a small bite from a mushroom in the garden or wild mushrooms may be misidentified and used to cook meals. Thankfully most patients experience only minor symptoms like nausea or mild vomiting. Normal fluid intake should be all that is needed in these cases but contact the Poisons Centre if symptoms persist for a few hours or if you are worried.

In rare cases there can be very severe symptoms that require hospital treatment.

One of the most toxic mushrooms in Ireland is Amanita phalloides (Death Cap); see picture. It is recognised by a characeteristic bulbous cup around the base of the stem but is otherwise quite non-descript. It can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea followed by liver damage. Symptoms of vomiting are often delayed for more than 6 hours after eating this mushroom. 

Other toxic species can cause symptoms like sweating, salivation, hallucinations, flushed skin, dilated pupils, delerium, and drowsiness. 

In some cases it may be useful to have a sample of the mushroom that can be identified by an expert.  Good quality photographs with images of the gills and stalk may also be useful.  Contact the Poisons Centre for further information.