1/6/09

Be careful with the mushrooms.

It's rare, but it seems to happen every year.
Three members of an East Bay family were hospitalized over the holidays after they ate a highly toxic wild fungus known as the death cap, one of the world's most dangerous mushrooms.

Two 11-year-old boys from Albany [California] and their 72-year-old grandmother, who was visiting the family from Ithaca, N.Y., became violently ill after eating the mushrooms, which they had harvested along a trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park....

Mushroom poisonings are fairly rare, but experts say it is easy for those without training to mistake an edible species for a deadly one.

Even connoisseurs can be duped by the way a death cap presents itself. The toadstool with white spores is common in the Bay Area, but the color varies and can be affected by weather and odd growing conditions. Its telltale signs are often buried in soil.

Aficionados say the best place to acquire mushrooms for those without training is at the store.

Elbert, a former professor of environmental history, said she was surprised by the effects of the mushrooms she and her family consumed.

"I've been a mushroom hunter all my life," she said....

Doctors initially had difficulty identifying the specific culprit. The boys' mother returned to the site where the mushrooms were picked. An expert with the Mycological Society of San Francisco - which offers mushroom walks and workshops - helped identify the culprit as Amanita phalloides.

"Ithaca does not have aminitas," Elbert said. "They were scattered under the live oaks with many, many other kinds of mushrooms."

Doctors used an arsenal of several different medications to attack the poison, including penicillin and acetylcysteine - but there is no known antidote for this toxin.

Doctors also obtained a waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an organic compound, milk thistle derived silimarin, which was air-freighted to the hospital from Germany.
Doctors said they expect a full recovery for all three patients.

Link to the source.

Link to the recent fungus fair.

6 comments:

Frances said...

Hi Chuck, thanks for alerting us to that danger. I personally would never eat a wild mushroom, although we had morels in our first TN yard that were superb sauteed with a little butter. :-)
Frances

Weeping Sore said...

Mushrooms are too scary for me to buy anywhere but the Farmer's market. I'll stick to vegetable that aren't trying to kill me.

Jon said...

Chuck, it is sad to me how some people are so obsessed with food and eating that the truly ignorant will try to nibble on anything. No wonder there is so much obesity in this country....so I am not surprised by this mushroom poisoning at all. It is sad, but incredibly stupid to me that they picked them to eat.

I often get the dumb question about my ornamental sweet potato vines....'Ace of Spades', 'Blackie', 'Margarita', etc...."Can you eat the potatoes?" I answer that yes I CAN but why would I want to when famous Vardaman sweet potatoes grown commercially here in Mississippi are delicious and a dime a dozen. I have also been asked if their leaves were edible. Who in their right mind would be interested in eating sweet potato leaves? Go figure!

And so it goes. I hereby make a resolution to try this year to find humor in off-the-wall gardening questions and disregard the stupidity.

Jon at Mississippi Garden

Garden Wise Guy said...

Good news tip for the daring among us. And thanks for the comment at my GardenWiseGuy site about the funky link to my flickr site. All fixed.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I fail to see Jon's link between harvesting wild mushrooms and the obesity epidemic. I'm trying... but I really don't see it, even with a huge stretch.

But anyway, what I find interesting about this is that there are so many foods and drugs with unpronounceable names... and they had to get a waiver to bring in an organic compound derived from milk thistle. Don't get me wrong, I know that natural products can be just as potent/scary as synthetic ones... it just kind of gives me pause.

Abigail Rose said...

Hi Chuck, I was wondering what kind of barrel you use to catch rain water? I think it's time for me to catch some...