UK death cap fatality

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Geoff Dann

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Sep 15, 2010
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How about we do something good about this fatality ?

Xylaria did an excellent thread a while back on fungi recognition, but how about one dedicated to each individual deadly one found in the UK ?
Keep it factual and we can stickie it in the forum ? Clearly labelled in bright red.....poisonous, do not eat!

I'm happy to contribute to that, yes.

A real issue with identification is simply that the few photos in a book in no way compare to actually 'seeing' the fungus growing, in situ, but maybe we can have enough added to the thread, as well as the technical description, to make it much clearer.

I know I don't have any photos of the death cap, but I know I can access a couple of fungal foraying groups records and check where they are known to grow, and when.

I've not been carrying a camera for long. I have a few usable photos of death caps, and lots of lovely photos of Clitocybe rivulosa. I'm missing G. marginata, and wouldn't be able to identify the deadly Cortinariuses to species anyway.

I still think there is no better way to learn this stuff than by actually going out with someone who really knows their stuff though; courses are well worth the money if you can afford them, as it joining one of the mycological recording associations :)

+1.

You don't really know a species of plant or fungus until you've touched it and smelled it.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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I think most people are terrified of foraging for wild fungi. Lots of them even seem to think that fungi are "bad" and should be stomped.

Yeah :sigh: no getting away from that.
They're just so totally unfamiliar to them, have no relevance, no use, no value, so they destroy them, and teach their children to do so too :(

Toddy
 

Samon

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 24, 2011
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Britannia!
My mum always told me to avoid mushrooms and toadstalls as some are posionous, when I was about 12 and started to explore and learn about mushrooms (not eat) I quickly learned about the deathcap in a British wildlife handbook I stole from the school library. I even done internet research to discover the posion cannot be cured and if you eat enough you will die, painfully.

The only mushrooms I felt safe to eat were jews ears and oyster mushrooms, as they were obvious and I didn't want to die an excrutiating and pointless death. :p

When I started to farm various species' of my own, I tried to find edible wild white field mushrooms and I still didn't feel comfy eating the ones that looked right, just incase!
 

Geoff Dann

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deathcap.png


To me, this doesn't look edible.

Does this?

volvar1.jpg
 

Samon

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 24, 2011
3,970
42
Britannia!
I wouldn't like to say as I don't know what it is, but in my opinion, any mushroom you cannot identify 100% is poisonous! regardless if it genuienly is or not, that way you don't get stupid and decide to take a chance.
 

Andy BB

Full Member
Apr 19, 2010
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I know enough to know that some mushrooms are deadly, and consequently would never eat anything I'd foraged myself unless checked by an expert, even if it did have brown gills, no red spots and no little "dress" around the stem!

However, to be honest, I thought the original post was slightly uncalled for. On another thread there's general bemoaning that so many can't even boil an egg, yet we're expecting all and sundry to be aware that some mushrooms are poisonous? A tragic episode, and there'll be ongoing grief for the friends and family.

I also remember that aforaging and fungus expert on Ray Mears' foraging in the UK videos managed to poison himself (not fatally, luckily) by eating mushrooms mistakenly labelled as safe by a university lab. So even the most knowledgeable make mistakes sometimes.............
 

Geoff Dann

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Sep 15, 2010
1,246
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www.geoffdann.co.uk
My mum always told me to avoid mushrooms and toadstalls as some are posionous, when I was about 12 and started to explore and learn about mushrooms (not eat) I quickly learned about the deathcap in a British wildlife handbook I stole from the school library. I even done internet research to discover the posion cannot be cured and if you eat enough you will die, painfully.

The only mushrooms I felt safe to eat were jews ears and oyster mushrooms, as they were obvious and I didn't want to die an excrutiating and pointless death. :p

When I started to farm various species' of my own, I tried to find edible wild white field mushrooms and I still didn't feel comfy eating the ones that looked right, just incase!

Field mushrooms are more dangerous, relatively speaking, than many other edibles. There is a false sense of security maybe, because they look like shop mushrooms. Unfortunately it is all too easy to get a field mushroom mixed up with a death cap if you are unlucky enough to find a death cap growing in grass and don't know about the other differences.

The toxins involved with the really dangerous species are truly nasty substances. They directly attack the parts of your body which are responsible for eliminating or breaking down toxins, and as such are to lesser toxins what HIV is to lesser viruses (HIV attacks the white blood cells which are responsible for eliminating viruses.)

What a lot of people don't know is that many other mammals, including rabbits and deer, can quite happily eat death caps, because they have digestive enzymes which break down the toxins before they enter the bloodstream. People tend to assume that anything poisonous is so because it a self-defence mechanism - the mushroom doesn't want to be eaten. This is not the case. They just happen to contain a deadly-to-humans chemical which we can't digest.
 

HillBill

Bushcrafter through and through
Oct 1, 2008
8,114
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W. Yorkshire
I always see it as everything in the wild is edible - except for the things that will kill or harm you. Learn those few things first... experiment with the rest. Its more important to know what not to eat, than what to eat .


I'm not sure I understand this. It was always obvious to me, without anybody ever specifically pointing it out, that if you're interested in what wild fungi are edible, then by default you need also be interested in what is poisonous, especially what is deadly. It's like yin and yang, or should be.
 

Geoff Dann

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On another thread there's general bemoaning that so many can't even boil an egg, yet we're expecting all and sundry to be aware that some mushrooms are poisonous?

Well....yes, actually. I treat the British public as 99% ignorant about wild fungi, but do tend to expect the 1% non-ignorance to be an awareness that some mushrooms are poisonous. Very poisononous. I did indeed think just about every adult with an IQ above 70 knew this. Clearly I am wrong.

I also remember that aforaging and fungus expert on Ray Mears' foraging in the UK videos managed to poison himself (not fatally, luckily) by eating mushrooms mistakenly labelled as safe by a university lab. So even the most knowledgeable make mistakes sometimes.............

That wasn't his fault. It was a mistake made by the botany department at the university he worked at. The mushrooms had been ID'd correctly, but then somebody had switched two lots and Gordan Hillman ended up being given the wrong lot to eat. Fortunately they were not a really dangerous variety. They were something containing muscarine, to which there is an antidote (oddly enough, the antidote can be found in another famous deadly British species: deadly nightshade.)

ETA: Gordon Hillman wasn't (should say isn't - he is currently suffering from Alzheimer's, sadly) a mushroom expert. He was an ethno-paleo-botanist - an expert on the uses of plants by pre-civilisation people.
 
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Geoff Dann

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I always see it as everything in the wild is edible - except for the things that will kill or harm you.

Are you Polish? ;-D

Learn those few things first... experiment with the rest. Its more important to know what not to eat, than what to eat .

Yes. And the jibe about the Polish is half serious. I've seen what they leave behind, and it's not much. There's no way they know all the species they are eating. They apparently know what is seriously poisonous, and take just about everything else.
 

carabao

Forager
Oct 16, 2011
226
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hove
Geof's comments were harsh, but it has opened up a lively topic one with advice. Mushrooms are in our folklores and fairy tales that's why I fear them, a bit like snakes it's in us to fear them its something in our primeval makeup we know to be scared and avoid even though we are in the Northern Hemispeare and only have one poisonous snake to contend with.
I was told but sure if true or it still goes but you could take mushrooms into any chemist and they would I'd them for you?
 

Geoff Dann

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By the way...if anybody actually read that story, you may have noticed that the picture with it is not of a death cap. It is of a false death cap (Amanita citrina) which is edible. Quite bizarre really. The one really useful thing they could have done was to use a picture of the thing which actually killed this person. Presumably there are now lots of Daily Mail readers who think a death cap is pale yellow with grey spots on the cap.
 

carabao

Forager
Oct 16, 2011
226
0
hove
Geof's comments were harsh, but it has opened up a lively topic one with advice. Mushrooms are in our folklores and fairy tales that's why I fear them, a bit like snakes it's in us to fear them its something in our primeval makeup we know to be scared and avoid even though we are in the Northern Hemispeare and only have one poisonous snake to contend with.
I was told but sure if true or it still goes but you could take mushrooms into any chemist and they would I'd them for you?
Should have added in France
 

Geoff Dann

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The original post was a judgement error. We all make them sometimes. I would edit it if I were the OP.

If I edited it now, it would make the rest of the thread look a bit odd.

It was thoughtless to include the woman's name, especially because the points I was making were general with respect to anybody eating a death cap, and nothing to do with this particular case. However, I'm not sure it is a judgement error to say that anybody who eats a death cap has done something very foolish, and something that could easily have been avoided, even if it was just by not foraging for mushrooms if you've never done any research at all into foraging for mushrooms. I stand by what I said about candidacy for a Darwin Award. I guess you may think those are also in bad taste.
 
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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
This is really two threads in one, isn't it ?

I read through it again, trying to see how to seperate them, but it doesn't split tidily.

How about I close it, and we just let it sink into the forum files? but I would ask that Geoff re-starts a thread about the issue, simply quoting the fatality and then we'll get as much information up as we can on the Death Cap. Keep it on that topic, using it's name in full in the OP, and that way we can use one of the words as the search link, without it getting drowned in dozens of threads.

Does that sound reasonable ?

cheers,
Toddy
 

Geoff Dann

Native
Sep 15, 2010
1,246
26
53
Sussex
www.geoffdann.co.uk
This is really two threads in one, isn't it ?

I read through it again, trying to see how to seperate them, but it doesn't split tidily.

How about I close it, and we just let it sink into the forum files? but I would ask that Geoff re-starts a thread about the issue, simply quoting the fatality and then we'll get as much information up as we can on the Death Cap. Keep it on that topic, using it's name in full in the OP, and that way we can use one of the words as the search link, without it getting drowned in dozens of threads.

Does that sound reasonable ?

cheers,
Toddy

I don't mind if you close the thread. There's not much to discuss regarding this specific case of death cap poisoning.

I'm happy to start a death cap thread, and have some pictures, but I'm not sure about how I'm supposed to post pictures on this board.
 
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