Department of Health

Poisonous mushrooms growing in Victoria

Health advisory

Status:
Active
Advisory number:
220413
Date issued:
12 Apr 2022
Issued by:
Dr Angie Bone, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Environment)
Issued to:
Health professionals and consumers

Key messages

  1. Poisonous mushrooms including Death Cap mushrooms and Yellow-staining mushrooms are currently growing around Victoria. 
  2. Consuming a Death Cap mushroom may result in death.
  3. Cooking, peeling or drying these mushrooms does not remove or inactivate the poison.
  4. There is no home test available to distinguish safe and edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms.
  5. Mushrooms purchased from a supermarket, greengrocer or other reputable source are safe to eat.

What is the issue?

Death Cap mushrooms

Sample image of death cap mushroom

Death Cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) are extremely poisonous. Consuming just one mushroom can kill an adult. Symptoms of poisoning by Death Cap mushrooms can include violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Even if symptoms subside serious liver damage may have occurred that may result in death.

These mushrooms grow under oak trees and the caps are 40-160mm in diameter. The cap ranges in colour from pale yellow-green to olive brown and the ridges on the underside of the cap are white. The base of the stem has a membrane ‘cup’.

Yellow-staining mushrooms

Yellow-staining Mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus).

The Yellow-staining Mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus) is the cause of most poisonings due to ingestion of wild fungi in Victoria. Consuming Yellow-staining mushrooms causes nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting. The severity of symptoms varies with the amount eaten.

This mushroom looks very similar to regular purchased mushrooms or ‘cultivated mushrooms’ (Agaricus bisporus) and to edible wild mushrooms such as the field mushroom (Agaricus campestris). In urban areas the Yellow-staining Mushroom is unfortunately much more common than edible mushrooms. It can grow in large troops in lawns and gardens.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who collects and consumes wild mushrooms of unknown species is putting themselves at risk of potential poisoning and serious illness. Consuming a Death Cap mushroom may result in death.

Children should not touch wild mushroom with their bare hands and animals should be kept away from them. 

Pets can develop a range of illness from eating wild mushrooms including gastroenteritis-type syndrome to severe life-threatening disease and death. Dogs are more likely than cats to ingest mushrooms. 

Recommendations

Unless you are an expert, do not pick and eat wild mushrooms in Victoria.

People should urgently attend an emergency department if they believe they’ve eaten a poisonous mushroom. They should also take any remaining mushroom with them for identification. 

In most cases, the sooner treatment can begin, the better the outcome. Do not wait for symptoms to occur before seeking medical attention.

Contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Australia wide). Keep and photograph a sample of the mushroom that was consumed to share with the Victorian Poisons Information Centre for expert identification of the mushroom.

Pet owners should take particular care whilst pets in areas where mushrooms may grow and where possible, remove any mushrooms from your yard before pets have a chance to eat them.

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Reviewed 13 April 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Environmental Public Health Policy and Risk Management Unit

If you suspect mushroom poisoning, contact below:

Victorian Poisons Information Centre

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