Here Are 7 Tips On How To Identify Poisonous Mushrooms So That You Won’t End Up In The Hospital

Eat safe, stay safe.
Recently, a housewife decided to whip up a tasty lunch for her family using mushrooms she found growing near her house. Unfortunately, the mushrooms turned out to be poisonous and landed all of them in the hospital.

While we’ve been told that mushrooms are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, not all of them are safe for consumption and can even lead to death.

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To avoid such incidents from happening to you or those around you, here are 7 useful tips in identifying which mushrooms are poisonous:

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1. Observe the stem

Poisonous mushroom has ring on the stem
Photo via iNaturalist

Keep an eye on the stem. If you spot a ring (annulus) or a funky-looking ring on the stem, that’s a warning sign that it might be poisonous.

2. Do a colour-changing test

Poisonous mushroom's colour changed to orange or red when scratched
Photo via MDC

To determine if a mushroom is poisonous or not, scratch the top of the mushroom lightly with your nails. If you notice a significant change in colour (eg white to orange/red), chances are that it contains poison.

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Additionally, remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward to avoid any potential contact with the poison contained in the mushroom.

3. Investigate the base

Poisonous mushroom has sock like appearance
Photo via Mushroom Exam

Dig well into the ground near the mushroom and take a peek at its base. Poisonous mushrooms often have a weird sock-like or sarong-like appearance down there. Not exactly what you want on your plate, right?

4. Smell the mushroom

Person smelling mushrooms
Photo via Fueled With Food

Before purchasing mushrooms from markets or harvesting them yourself, give it a quick sniff. Edible mushrooms generally have a pleasant aroma, while poisonous varieties tend to emit pungent and unappealing odours.

However, take care not to inhale too forcefully as you don’t want to risk inhaling any toxic spores.

5. Pay attention to the cap’s colour

Poisonous mushroom in red cap
Photo via Woodland Trust

While it may appear to be aesthetically pleasing, bright, eye-catching hues like red, orange, and yellow-coloured caps are often warning signs of poisonous mushrooms.

Instead, it’s best to just admire its beauty from afar than to pick it and add it into your food for that extra ‘colour’!

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6. Observe where mushrooms grow

One of the most telling signs that a mushroom is most likely poisonous can be found in the area in which it grows.

Mushrooms that are found growing on the ground carry a higher risk of toxicity as it might have grown in an area where wild animals dump their excrement.

7. Boil the mushrooms

Mushrooms being boiled
Photo via How To Boil

When in doubt, it’s best to boil the mushrooms. Poisonous mushrooms tend to change in colour dramatically or create a concentrated broth as its toxins are released.

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However, it’s crucial to note that not all toxins in mushrooms can be neutralized through heat as some compounds remain stable even after cooking.

Bottom line, always exercise caution and seek expert advice when unsure about a mushroom’s edibility!


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