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  #1  
Old 09-26-2006, 11:21 PM
astro astro is offline
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Those big, white hand sized mushrooms that pop up in your front yard. Safe to eat?

I've seen a bunch of mushrooms popping up lately. They're the typical white flat top kind that are around the size of a persons open hand. I'm in Maryland and these tend to pop up n th middle of the lawn. How can I tell if these are safe to eat?

I'd like to use them in some soups & stews. How can I be sure?
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  #2  
Old 09-26-2006, 11:28 PM
Heckxx Heckxx is offline
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I've always heard that its a very bad idea to play "roulette" with mushrooms you see growing around anywhere.

Its either impossible or really hard for the average joe to determine if your mushrooms are poisonous or not.
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  #3  
Old 09-26-2006, 11:42 PM
sweepkick sweepkick is offline
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Definitely not something that you want to do without being an expert, this just happened a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/702753.html

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Old 09-26-2006, 11:44 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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First, find an old mycologist who lives in your area. Both of those qualifications are important: Mushroom species may vary from place to place, and a young mycologist is often just one who hasn't managed to kill himself yet. Then, bring him to your house and ask if a mushroom is safe to eat. If he says yes, then let him eat half of it. Wait a few days. If he's still alive, that particular mushroom is safe to eat, and you can have the other half. Then, ask him about the second mushroom, and repeat.
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Old 09-26-2006, 11:47 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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IME it's as hard to make that decision over the internet as it is to get medical advice on the SDMB. We have a patch of mushrooms that keeps popping up in the backyard. I have no interest in eating them, but I wanted to know if they where dangerous for my dogs. I never even got a good answer to that. What it came down to is that even if you could describe them really well in writing (a hell of a lot better then 'white hand sided mushrooms') there's still a lot of mushrooms that are similar. You really need someone who knows what they're talking about to come and look at them.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2006, 02:45 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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There are no reliable 'rules of thumb' when it comes to determining the safety of fungi for the table; there are 'folk wisdom' identification methods determining edibility based on whether it turns black in contact with silver, whether is it being eaten by other animals, etc. They are all unreliable. The only safe method is positive identification of species based on comprehensive examination of the fruiting body's appearance, smell, texture, habitat, season, spore print and taste (taste can be used diagnostically for even the most poisonous species, as long as only a small piece is tasted and spat out afterwards, but I don't recommend this and I don't think many mycologists use it routinely).

Having said all that, some common species are very easy to positively identify, and very difficult to mistake for anything poisonous, but positive identification is the only way.
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Old 09-27-2006, 03:04 AM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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My grandmother used to collect and eat wild mushrooms, but my mother, her daughter, refused to eat them. I don't recall her ever picking the "toadstools" that grew in the yard though and I seem to remember her saying that they weren't edible, although I don't know if that was because they were toxic, or just tasted bad.
BTW, my granny died of natural causes in her late 80's.
Here's a site: http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/askext/lawns/1534.htm
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Old 09-27-2006, 06:34 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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An acquantance of mine died from liver failure last year after picking wild mushrooms and eating them. I recommend against trying them.

But I know nothing about mushrooms.
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  #9  
Old 09-27-2006, 06:43 AM
brewha brewha is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by article posted by Sweepkick
Public health officials said that the victims might have mistaken the toxic Eastern American Destroying Angel mushroom for a nonpoisonous variety commonly found in Southeast Asia.
That is one badass name for a mushroom! Bandname anyone?
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  #10  
Old 09-27-2006, 07:10 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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How about the big yellow ones that can grow right up through an asphalt driveway? Anything that strong can't be good for you.
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  #11  
Old 09-27-2006, 08:26 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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Be careful you don't get Roomis Igloomis.
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Old 09-27-2006, 08:41 AM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself
How about the big yellow ones that can grow right up through an asphalt driveway? Anything that strong can't be good for you.
You think that's impressive? Check out this:
http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/e...ish_828525.htm
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  #13  
Old 09-27-2006, 08:45 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
First, find an old mycologist who lives in your area. Both of those qualifications are important: Mushroom species may vary from place to place, and a young mycologist is often just one who hasn't managed to kill himself yet. Then, bring him to your house and ask if a mushroom is safe to eat. If he says yes, then let him eat half of it. Wait a few days. If he's still alive, that particular mushroom is safe to eat, and you can have the other half. Then, ask him about the second mushroom, and repeat.
The power of fungus commands you? I just saw this movie, too. You're hilarious.

Another recommendation to please never eat mushrooms you just find! People die in India all the time from eating mushrooms. Are you starving or something? Mushrooms arne't that expensive from the grocery store!
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  #14  
Old 09-27-2006, 09:02 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A.
Be careful you don't get Roomis Igloomis.
Is that you, Old Dr. Young? Or Young Dr. Young?
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  #15  
Old 09-27-2006, 09:25 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika
Another recommendation to please never eat mushrooms you just find! People die in India all the time from eating mushrooms. Are you starving or something? Mushrooms arne't that expensive from the grocery store!
Counterpoint to the above; if you get the chance to go out foraging for wild mushrooms, accompanied by someone who really knows what they are looking for, go for it! - wild mushrooms are nearly always nicer than anything you can buy in the shops. In Northern Europe, there are a couple of dozen really good edible species for which positive identification is really easy to learn. The situation in America and elsewhere may not be so convenient; I don't know.
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Old 09-27-2006, 09:54 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Most likely based on your very vague description, they are some species of Agaricus. That genus are widespread saprobes that pop up a lot on lawns and can get decent sized. Again, most likely, they are in a section of the genus called the Xanthodermati and are NOT good to eat. If they have a "phenolic" odor and the base of the stipe or the cap develops a slight ( or bright ) yellow stain when you score it with a fingernail or better yet put a drop of KOH on them, that would be at least a partial confirmation of that.

But that's just most likely and that's not a very likely most likely, if you get my meaning ( i.e. the number of possibilities are large ). Mangetout has it exactly right - avoid them unless absolutely confirmed by someone qualified. And even if confirmed as edible ( and oddly enough some good edibles do pop up on lawns, including other sections of Agaricus ), I'd treat them with caution. Because A) lawns are often treated with not-so-good-to-eat chemicals and B) first exposure to new species of even ostensibly edible mushrooms can cause an adverse reaction ( usually an upset tummy ) in certain individuals.

Please avoid them.

- Tamerlane
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  #17  
Old 09-27-2006, 10:00 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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You guys are making this to complicated. The easy way to tell edible mushrooms is to eat only the ones you find in the produce section of the grocery.
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  #18  
Old 09-27-2006, 10:04 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is online now
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David Simmons, now I wants me some Portabello mushies.


Mmm....portabello. *drools*
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  #19  
Old 09-27-2006, 11:53 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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The power of fungus commands you? I just saw this movie, too. You're hilarious.
You saw that movie, too? What a coincidence... Because I didn't, and have no clue what movie you're talking about.

Quote:
In Northern Europe, there are a couple of dozen really good edible species for which positive identification is really easy to learn. The situation in America and elsewhere may not be so convenient; I don't know.
There's at least one edible species in America which is easy to positively identify: the morel. Apparently they're highly prized, going for something like $70 a pound, but I didn't like them at all, when I tried them. At the right time of year, you can find enough in an afternoon in the forest to make a small side dish with dinner.
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  #20  
Old 09-27-2006, 01:57 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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Read the following before eating unknown mushrooms:

http://www.knet.co.za/mushrooms/poisonfacts.htm
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  #21  
Old 09-27-2006, 01:59 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
You saw that movie, too? What a coincidence... Because I didn't, and have no clue what movie you're talking about.
Oh. Sorry. You were talking about an old mycologist, and a young mycologist....and they get an old priest and a young priest in the Exorcist. I just thought you were correlating the two of them.
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  #22  
Old 09-27-2006, 02:17 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
You guys are making this to complicated. The easy way to tell edible mushrooms is to eat only the ones you find in the produce section of the grocery.
I think I figured this out when I was about five. There are mushrooms, which come from the grocery store, and there are toadstools, which come from the yard. You shouldn't eat toadstools.
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  #23  
Old 09-27-2006, 03:12 PM
spingears spingears is offline
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Pick them. Clean them with a mushroom brush. Saute them in butter. Put them on a big platter. Look at them fondly and
SPOILER:
dump them in the garbage!
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  #24  
Old 09-27-2006, 03:24 PM
teela brown teela brown is online now
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Peter Mayle, in one of his Provence books, notes how French pharmacists are qualified to identify edible mushrooms. He says you'll see fungus-identifying charts in pharmacies, and during mushroom hunting time, lines of folks bearing baskets of 'shrooms for the pharmacist's inspection.

You'd never see that in America. Just think of the liability in case of a mis-identification.
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  #25  
Old 09-27-2006, 03:51 PM
Jake Jake is offline
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Would a poison mushroom taste any different than a non-poison one?
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  #26  
Old 09-27-2006, 04:09 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
Would a poison mushroom taste any different than a non-poison one?
Never having eaten one I can't say. However it would seem that they don't taste bad or funny because people do eat them and die.
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Old 09-27-2006, 04:10 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
Would a poison mushroom taste any different than a non-poison one?
Wikipedia says that some poisonous mushrooms supposedly taste good. I would think that they differ in taste like non-poisonous mushrooms do. There are poisonous mushrooms that are so toxic, it's not safe to taste them and spit them out to determine if they're poisonous, in case you're thinking that might be a good way to identify poisonous mushrooms.
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  #28  
Old 09-27-2006, 04:28 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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I should mention that there is at least one substance that is toxic and supposedly tastes pretty good to the children and pets who ingest it- antifreeze (ethylene glycol). The toxin that causes botulism, which is extremely poisonous, doesn't make tainted foods taste bad. That being the case, and the fact that different species of poisonous mushrooms use different types of toxins, there's no reason to think that poisonous mushrooms should have a distinctive taste, or even that they should all taste bad.
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  #29  
Old 09-27-2006, 04:38 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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I've always wondered about wild musrooms-they are said to taste much better than cultivated ones. But the downside-death from liver failure! Every year, I read about deaths from eating mis-identified mushrooms!
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  #30  
Old 09-27-2006, 04:55 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
Would a poison mushroom taste any different than a non-poison one?
Not necessarily - I hear that death caps (Amanita Phalloides) are pretty tasty, but lets put this all into perspective:

Of the many thousands of species of fungi, probably at least half of them don't even remotely resemble anything you would wish to eat.

Of the thousands of species that look like mushrooms, the majority will be rare, or endemic to specific habitats; the upshot of which is that, unless you go to great pains to find the others, you're only likely to encounter maybe a couple of hundred or so of the more common species .

Of these, the majority of those that you wouldn't want to eat are just inedible - because of bitterness, nasty texture, turning bright blue on cooking, etc.

There are, in normal life, about a few dozen species of common, highly-worthwhile edible fungi, and a couple of dozen species of common poisonous ones (of which maybe half are deadly)

None of this is to downplay the seriousness of mistakenly eating deadly poisonous fungi. If you don't know what you're doing, you could die.

But you don't have to become an expert in identifying every single species of fungus; you only have to become adept in positively identifying those that are common, and worthwhile; if you learn to positively identify these (including an dichotomous understanding of species that can be mistaken for them) and just ignore anything else you find, it's really very safe.
People only suffer or die of poisoning because they (or whoever picked the fungi) failed to observe these simple precautions. It's not to be taken lightly, but it's not impossibly hard.
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  #31  
Old 09-27-2006, 05:00 PM
homeskillet homeskillet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
There's at least one edible species in America which is easy to positively identify: the morel.
Heh! Yeah, unless you confuse it with the deadly poisonous False Morel! Actually you can eat them, so long as they're prepared properly.
True Morels are one of my favorites and I have fond memories of hunting for them when I was little.
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  #32  
Old 09-27-2006, 05:00 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
I've always wondered about wild musrooms-they are said to taste much better than cultivated ones.
Have you ever eaten a ripe, homegrown tomato, picked and eaten sun-warmed off the plant? The difference between this and those pale orange crunchy balls of insipid water sold as tomatoes in the supermarkets - this difference - pales in comparison to the difference between wild-picked and shop-bought mushrooms.
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  #33  
Old 09-27-2006, 05:01 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro
I've seen a bunch of mushrooms popping up lately. They're the typical white flat top kind that are around the size of a persons open hand. I'm in Maryland and these tend to pop up n th middle of the lawn. How can I tell if these are safe to eat?

I'd like to use them in some soups & stews. How can I be sure?
Wikipedia speaks

Quote:
An identification should be made with no less than size, color, gill connectivity, environment, a cross section, bruising color, odor, and a spore print.
"big, white hand sized" doesn't nearly cut it.
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  #34  
Old 09-27-2006, 05:10 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
I've always wondered about wild musrooms-they are said to taste much better than cultivated ones. But the downside-death from liver failure! Every year, I read about deaths from eating mis-identified mushrooms!
Some of the mushrooms you buy in the supermarket are wild mushrooms. If you're buying morels, they're almost certainly wild.
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  #35  
Old 09-27-2006, 07:23 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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I've spent some time with amateur (but rather experienced) mycologists and come away with the impression that "mainstream" wild-mushroom enthusiasts are interested in just a few types. Morels, king boletes and chanterelles seem to lead the list. These are superb eating and not easy to confuse with harmful species.

By contrast, "white flat top" mushrooms are unlikely to be choice and are easily confused with dangerous types. So they will be eaten only by the true experts or the very foolish.
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  #36  
Old 09-27-2006, 07:53 PM
WishIHadACoolName WishIHadACoolName is offline
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My brother is an experienced "rams' head" hunter. He was taught as a child (by our grandfather) to identify these and other edibles that grow in this part of Pennsylvania. Rams' Heads are big, giant mushrooms that look like a bunch of ears or dying leaves. He assures me that they are delicious. I'lll never know. In this area, people who know where to find these mushrooms (also called Hen of the Woods) refuse to tell anyone where they "shroom". They grow on oak. There are people who will actually drive miles out of their way to "feed" a mushroom a bottle of milk, allegedly to make it grow bigger or something. I've seen Rams' Head mushrooms too large for me to lift, literally 4-5 feet across. Said brother usually fills a pickup truck with them every early fall, and does whatever it is he does with them and then freezes them for use all year.

I do not eat mushrooms. I definitely would not eat mushrooms from my yard. I don't step on them either, as that just spreads the spores around.
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  #37  
Old 09-28-2006, 12:04 AM
groman groman is offline
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Also, unintentionally consuming a psilocybin containing mushroom or something in the fly agaric family without realizing it may make one wish they had eaten the kills-you-dead-kind and regret it for the rest of their lives. Although the chance of doing so by accident is fairly small.
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  #38  
Old 09-28-2006, 02:35 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema
I've spent some time with amateur (but rather experienced) mycologists and come away with the impression that "mainstream" wild-mushroom enthusiasts are interested in just a few types. Morels, king boletes and chanterelles seem to lead the list. These are superb eating and not easy to confuse with harmful species.

By contrast, "white flat top" mushrooms are unlikely to be choice and are easily confused with dangerous types. So they will be eaten only by the true experts or the very foolish.
This is fairly true, although there are species of Agaricus - horse mushrooms, wood mushrooms and 'the prince' being the members that spring to mind, but as others have noted, there are other species in this genus that are not good to eat, or are (non-fatally)poisonous.

But the risk is the same anyway, whether you're collecting the common ones or the esoteric delicacies; if you take the trouble to be very certain of the identification of whatever you're collecting, you'll be fine. If you don't, mistakes are costly.

BTW, death by poisoning from some fungi (notably the poisonous members of the genus Amanita[/i] is a particularly nasty way to go; typically consisting of violent, painful illness, a day or so of apparent recovery, then rapid decline and death.
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  #39  
Old 09-28-2006, 03:25 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne Neville
The toxin that causes botulism
Botulism is caused by bacteria which release a characteristic toxin when they are destroyed. Consuming the toxin alone can cause poisining but not a case of botulism infection.
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Old 09-28-2006, 03:52 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derleth
Botulism is caused by bacteria which release a characteristic toxin when they are destroyed. Consuming the toxin alone can cause poisining but not a case of botulism infection.
Botulism is the poisoning. Or at least one form is. Infectious botulism does not normally occur in adults.
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Old 09-28-2006, 03:54 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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(Cite)
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What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin.
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  #42  
Old 09-28-2006, 08:07 AM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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Quote:
There's at least one edible species in America which is easy to positively identify: the morel.
Also the chanterelle, as Xema mentions. Mmmmm, good stuff.

My parents go mushroom-hunting all the time on the Oregon coast. Chanterelles in abundance, as well as matsutake and several other varieties which I eat happily but whose names I don't know.
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Old 09-28-2006, 08:11 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadarene
Also the chanterelle, as Xema mentions. Mmmmm, good stuff.
There are fungi that superficially resemble chantarelles; easily distinguished if you know the key identification points, but cases of mistaken identity can and do occur, even with this distinctive mushroom.
The point is that the cases of mistaken identity are always avoidable; not by becoming an expert mycologist, just by being properly able to identify the species you're seeking.
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  #44  
Old 09-28-2006, 08:14 AM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
But you don't have to become an expert in identifying every single species of fungus; you only have to become adept in positively identifying those that are common, and worthwhile; if you learn to positively identify these (including an dichotomous understanding of species that can be mistaken for them) and just ignore anything else you find, it's really very safe.
People only suffer or die of poisoning because they (or whoever picked the fungi) failed to observe these simple precautions. It's not to be taken lightly, but it's not impossibly hard.
I agree. We used to go mushroom picking every year when I was a kid, and it's not too hard to gather a basket of champignons without getting any death caps or destroying angels in there - just be very conservative about what you identify as pickeable. Ditto for Boletus and so on.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:51 AM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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There are fungi that superficially resemble chantarelles; easily distinguished if you know the key identification points, but cases of mistaken identity can and do occur, even with this distinctive mushroom.
Huh. I didn't know that. Thanks, Mangetout. Do you have more information? (It's hard for me to imagine someone mistaking another mushroom for a chanterelle, but I certainly defer to your expertise.)
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:58 AM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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And now I've Wikied the Jack O'Lantern mushroom, which is apparently a poisonous chanterelle lookalike. Either we don't have any of those on the Oregon coast, or my parents never bothered to warn me about them because they hate my breathing guts.
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  #47  
Old 09-28-2006, 10:13 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadarene
Huh. I didn't know that. Thanks, Mangetout. Do you have more information? (It's hard for me to imagine someone mistaking another mushroom for a chanterelle, but I certainly defer to your expertise.)
The False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) is the one I had in mind; its appearance is quite variable, but can superficially resemble true Chanterelles. The spore print is a different colour, the gills do not extend down the stem and it does not have the apricot smell of true Chanterelles.
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  #48  
Old 09-28-2006, 10:24 AM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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the gills do not extend down the stem
This is what I always look for.
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  #49  
Old 09-28-2006, 10:28 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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In fact the gills on Chanterelles are not really like gills at all; they're more like deep wrinkles (this is another diagnostic feature).
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  #50  
Old 09-28-2006, 10:48 AM
Gadarene Gadarene is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Washington, D.C.
Posts: 6,636
Everything about chanterelles rocks; I'm an unabashed fan. Nothing like seeing a small, firm bit of yellow peeking out from underneath a tangle of wet leaves and humus.
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