Watch out for wild mushrooms

6 May 2019

South Australians are reminded not to pick and eat wild mushrooms, as a variety of poisonous mushrooms start to pop up following recent rain.

SA Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, said that while some wild mushrooms are edible, there are others that can resemble supermarket varieties but contain poisons that can result in sickness or death.

“Any wild, unidentified mushroom can potentially be deadly, and the cooler and wetter weather conditions we’re now seeing create the ideal growing environment for wild mushrooms,” Dr Spurrier said.

“32 people have been admitted to our hospitals for mushroom poisoning since 2015, and around 300 calls have been made by South Australians to the Poisons Information Centre with suspected mushroom poisoning.

“Some wild mushrooms can cause severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea; others, including Death Caps, can cause liver damage, kidney failure or even death, even if only a small piece is consumed.

“In some cases it can take several hours for symptoms to appear following ingestion of a wild mushroom.”

Honorary Research Associate at the State Herbarium of SA, Pam Catcheside, said the recent rainfall has resulted in the deadly Death Cap mushroom popping up in areas, including the Adelaide Hills.

“Poisonous Death Cap Mushrooms Amanita phalloides are responsible for nine out of ten deaths from mushroom poisoning in Australia. All parts of the fungus are poisonous and their worst toxins can’t be destroyed by cooking,” Ms Catcheside said.

“Even the experts can have difficulty in identifying some species, so my advice would be to only eat mushrooms that have been purchased from a reliable green-grocer or supermarket.

“A major problem with the Death Cap is that it has been mistaken for the Stubble Rosegill Volvopluteus gloiocephalus with fatal results, since the latter species is very similar to the Paddy Straw Mushroom Volvariella volvacea, a delicacy in Asian cuisine.

“People born overseas, particularly in Asian countries, should be aware that these highly toxic mushrooms can look like edible mushrooms that they may have gathered in their home countries.”

Pets are also at risk of dying after eating poisonous mushrooms, so owners should immediately seek veterinary attention for their dog or cat if they suspect their pets have eaten wild mushrooms.

If you suspect you or someone you know has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to occur, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 and they will advise if it is necessary to seek medical attention.

In an emergency, always call triple zero (000).

For more information visit the mushroom poisoning page. 

Suspected mushroom exposure

South Australian calls received by the Poisons Information Centre hotline for suspected mushroom exposure since 2013.

Suspected mushroom exposure


Total Calls

Calls children less than 5 years

2019 (up to 1 May) 21 15 (6 referred to hospital)
2018 68 38 (9 referred to hospital)
2017 80 48 (13 referred to hospital)
2016 79 51 (19 referred to hospital)
2015 68 44 (17 referred to hospital)
2014 85 50 (20 referred to hospital)
2013 106 72 (23 referred to hospital)

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