Wild mushrooms

Autumn has arrived and for some people that means mushroom foraging season.

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

Every year we receive calls about accidental ingestion of poisonous mushrooms.  Poisonous mushrooms growing in the wild may be misidentified and used to cook meals or children may take a small bite from a mushroom in the garden. Thankfully most patients experience only minor symptoms like nausea or one or two episodes of vomiting. Normal fluid intake should be all that is needed in these cases.  If symptoms persist or if you are worried, contact the Poisons Centre.

In rare cases there can be severe poisoning that requires 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.  These samples should be wrapped in kitchen paper and stored securely in a cold area.  Good quality photographs with images of the gills and stalk may also be useful.  Contact the Poisons Centre for further information if required.