Weather prime for poisonous mushrooms

As the weather turns colder and wetter, South Australians heading outdoors are reminded to not pick and eat wild mushrooms.

The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Scientific Services Branch Director Dr David Simon said while some wild mushrooms might look like common supermarket varieties or mushrooms popular overseas, ingesting them can cause serious illness or even death.

“Mushroom poisoning causes violent stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,” Dr Simon said. “It can take several hours for symptoms to appear and can last for up to three days. Poisoning from varieties such as the death-cap mushroom can cause serious liver damage, which can be fatal.

“These types of mushrooms commonly grow and thrive in wet weather conditions and we often see a surge in calls made by South Australians to the Poisons Information Centre coinciding with this time of year.

Senior Botanist for the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia Dr Teresa Lebel said this year’s mushroom season was expected to be bountiful, with ideal growing conditions after South Australia’s particularly wet summer stimulating bumper growth in the still warm earth.

“This is why it will be especially important this year to keep an eye on children and pets outside, as mushrooms are easily in reach and can look interesting and attractive to eat,” Dr Lebel said.

“People should only eat mushrooms purchased from a reliable greengrocer or supermarket, as there is no simple way to tell if a mushroom is safe to eat or not, and even experts can have difficulty identifying certain species from each other.

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