poisonous mushrooms in indiana

Top 10 Deadly Poisonous Mushrooms In Indiana

Mushroom hunters! You must be cautious with deadly poisonous mushrooms in Indiana while foraging in the forests or parks since they may look similar to edible. These toxic mushrooms can cause serious illness and, worse, death.

Therefore, you must know how to identify Indiana’s poisonous mushrooms to prevent errors in collecting mushroom species.

Luckily, we have compiled some for you to observe. Most toxic mushrooms have characteristics that set them apart from edible Indiana mushrooms. Some have striking colors, a ring underneath the cap, and white gills, which often indicate that they are poisonous mushrooms (even though not all!). To better understand the common poisonous mushrooms in Indiana, let’s read this article to the end!

1. Chestnut Dapperling (Lepiota castanea)

The appearance of Chestnut Dapperling or Lepiota castanea looks appetizing. Look at the cap that resembles a delicious roasted marshmallow with a soft and chewy texture! Behind the salivating appeal, the mushroom is poisonous to humans. It produces amatoxins, the toxic substances that, unfortunately, are responsible for 95% of mushroom poisoning cases. So toxic, it can kill you in a heartbeat.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Chestnut Dapperling

As we briefly covered in the introduction, some of the deadliest mushrooms have white gills, including the Chestnut Dapperling. The cap is covered with scales in burnt brown color with white edges. Meanwhile, it also has a light, pinkish stem with similar scales to the cap. Moreover, the signs of poisoning appear about 6-12 hours after consumption, namely severe gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

2. Deadly Webcap (Cortinarius rubellus)

You can tell by the name that Cortinarius rubellus or Deadly Cap does not belong to the edible mushrooms. It produces orellanine toxins that can damage the kidneys and liver. Even more painful, it needs about 14 to 17 days to kill you slowly. During this time, your organs have already failed, and there is nothing you can do to save them.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Deadly Webcap

Generally, the symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, will occur around 36 hours after consuming the fungus. To avoid such an event, you can observe the physical characteristics of the mushroom before eating it. It has a dark red to brown cap with loose red or brown gills. The gills are much lighter when the Deadly Caps are young. In addition, the stem has zig-zag markings from the veil, with a similar color to the cap.

3. Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)

Many people mistakenly identify the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) with the Benign Paddy Straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea) because the physical appearance of the two is indeed similar. This error can be fatal because a small proportion of Death Cap will lead to damaged liver and, eventually, death. Therefore, it is essential to inform how to characterize this world’s deadliest mushrooms.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Death Cap

Like toxic mushrooms in general, you can check some physical parts: the cap, the gills, and the ring. The Death Cap measures about 3-6 inches, broken white with a hint of olive green, yellowish, or brown. As it ages, the cap will turn browner. Then, it has white, crowded gills, unlike the edible paddy straw that shows pinkish color. Next, the poisonous mushroom bears a ring underneath the cap. This characteristic is crucial because most poisonous mushrooms have rings.

Last but not least, create a spore print. It is the most reliable method to distinguish Death Cap from other mushrooms. The Death Cap has a spore print white, while the paddy straw is pink.

4. Destroying Angels (Amanita virosa)

The Destroying Angel (Amanita virosa) is related to Death Cap. Both are members of the Amanita family. In addition to this kinship, both have lethal toxins. The slight difference between this mushroom and the previous one is that it will kill you slowly. Generally, new poisoning symptoms will appear within about 6-24 hours.

Over time, these symptoms will get worse because your liver and kidneys are already damaged. Because of its severity, only 20-40% of people survive this poisoning.

Destroying Angels
Destroying Angels

So, the question is, how to identify this mushroom so as not to mistakenly characterize it as an edible meadow mushroom? Just like other poisonous mushrooms in Indiana, you can see from their physical characteristics. First, the cap and the gills. Both are pure white, while the edible fungus displays a pinkish shade on the gills.

Moreover, Destroying Angel features a ring under the cap, a particular hallmark of poisonous mushrooms. It also hides a sac-like cup under the ground. From June to November, you can easily find this toxic fungus on the grass next to trees or in mixed woods.

5. False Morels

Perhaps you may think, “aren’t most members of Morchella edible fungi?” Well, the answer is yes! But unfortunately, there is one type of mushroom that adopts a similar appeal to the morels. It is a False Morel or Gyromitra esculenta. As its scientific name suggests, False Morel contains the toxin gyromitrin.

Although not lethal, it can cause severe poisoning symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, ataxia, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness to fainting. So, what is the difference between false and true morels that we need to know to avoid the above things?

False Morels
False Morels

The most effective way to tell the two mushrooms apart is to cut open the mushrooms vertically. The True Morels will show a hollow inner part, while the False Morels have cotton-like fibers. In addition, the cap of false morels is reddish-brown, while the edible morels are more creamy to dark brown (tend to be black).

Furthermore, the False Morels cap’s shape is wavy, irregular, and brittle when held. In contrast, True Morels have a more uniform shape with pits or ridges on the surface. Meanwhile, the stem of edible morels is attached to the cap, compared to the hanging branch of the False morels.

6. Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Some toxic fungi have an attractive physical appearance to draw the insects’ attention, such as the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria). It has a bright red with white markings on most of the caps. In addition, the toxic mushroom features a pure white stem. Hence, they were very conspicuous among the scattered leaves. They also grow abundantly in the woodlands from late summer to early winter, under pines, spruces, and birch trees.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Fly Agaric

However, behind its beauty (which is super alarming!), ingesting this wild psychedelic mushroom will upset your stomach badly and cause hallucinations as it contains toxic alkaloids. Those fooled by its tasty smell make them not hesitate to eat it. Usually, early symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, occur 30-90 minutes after ingestion.

In some cases, it can extend to three hours! Thankfully, fly agaric poisoning is not as deadly as other toxic fungi. Most issues can recover about 12-24 hours after these symptoms last. 

7. Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata)

Funeral Bell or Galerina marginata is another poisonous mushroom in Indiana that you should be aware of. They grow in clusters of rotten wood or tree stumps in open forests. Because this growing area is also what makes it known as a rotting fungus.

You can recognize this mushroom from its smooth, yellow to brown cap that forms like a dome. The color also changes according to the humidity level of the growing area. It also has a relatively long stem, with a ring at the top end close to the cap. However, it will disappear as the mushroom matures.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Funeral Bell

Although it looks harmless, the Funeral Bell is one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world. Along with Death Cap, it contains amatoxins. Within seven days, amatoxins damage the liver, spreading to the kidneys and other organs. The stages that occur before causing death are severe gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and severe diarrhea.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment that can handle this poisoning. Generally, the doctor will provide actions such as blood cleansing and remedy to protect against further liver damage.

8. Jack-O’-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius)

Omphalotus olearius or better known by the popular name Jack-O’-Lantern is a species of poisonous mushrooms that has a unique physical appearance. The color of the wavy caps is an orange-brown that glows among the dry, scattered leaves. Not only that, but it turns out this toxic mushroom also features bioluminescent, making it glow green at night.

Maybe because of this particular hallmark, people refer to it as a ‘lantern.’ Awesome, huh?

Jack-O'-Lantern
Jack-O’-Lantern

However, Jack-O’-Lantern belongs to the most poisonous mushrooms you must not eat. It contains muscarine and illudine, toxins that cause you trouble if the fungus is ingested. In one study, seven adults who experienced mushroom poisoning complained of abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and nausea. This condition does not seem life-threatening since the toxins are not lethal.

However, they can experience dehydration, organ damage, and even death if left unchecked. Moreover, these symptoms commonly occur for hours to days. If your condition worsens, call a doctor for proper treatment.

9. Shield Dapperling (Lepiota clypeolaria)

Still related to Chestnut Dapperling, Shield Dapperling or Lepiota clypeolaria is one of the most common dangerous mushrooms found in Indiana. Because of its physical characteristics, this toxic fungus is often misidentified as edible Agaricus. But actually, the white, unchanging gills are the characteristics that distinguish them from edible mushrooms.

Shield Dapperling
Shield Dapperling

Unlike the previous Dapperling, it has a large white-brown cap with tiny soft scales on the edges. Moreover, the compact white gills will change color to cream brown as the mushroom matures. In addition, you can observe a white ring circling the stem under the cap. This feature also warns that Lepiota clypeolaria is a poisonous mushroom that should not be eaten.

10. Tar-Scented Mushroom (Agaricus placomyces)

Despite being a member of Agaricus, the Tar-Scented Mushroom (Agaricus placomyces) is a poisonous mushroom that you should watch out for. It has an aroma similar to coal tar or phenol, which is quite pungent. The cap is wide, with broken white and brown markings. What distinguishes it from edible Agaricus is the ring on the stem.

poisonous mushrooms in indiana
Tar-Scented Mushroom

Furthermore, it may not be as deadly as other poisonous mushrooms in Indiana, but eating a Tar-Scented Mushroom will upset your stomach. Some signs of poisoning that may appear are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. However, some people do not experience it. Hence, until now, the toxicity and symptoms of Agaricus placomyces are still under study.

Home Remedy For Mushroom Poisoning

The effects of mushroom poisoning can vary, ranging from mild to severe, depending on what toxins are produced by those poisonous mushrooms. But generally, these toxins are quickly absorbed by the body, especially the liver and intestines. Thus, no wonder these two organs are the most susceptible to damage when someone is poisoned by mushrooms.

In addition, gastrointestinal issues are generally one of the first signs you experience mushroom poisoning. Usually, symptoms will appear about 6-24 hours after ingestion, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

However, if not treated quickly, these mild symptoms can be life-threatening. People significantly at risk of poisoning that results in death are children and the elderly because their body’s immune system is weak.

Suppose the emergency hospital room is full or far away from your home. In that case, you can provide first aid or home remedy to prevent severe effects. You can take activated charcoal at around 0.5 g/kg (maximum of 10 g).

Some studies suggest that it will help slow down the absorption of its toxin, giving your body time to take action toward the foreign substance. This method applies to any mushroom poisoning, regardless of type. In addition, you must drink a lot to flush down the toxins from your body, especially from the kidneys.

Please remember that this is only first aid. You must immediately call your doctors or nearby hospitals when ingesting the poisonous mushrooms because some cases can be highly lethal.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the most toxic mushroom in Indiana?

Destroying Angel and Deadly Webcap are Indiana’s two most toxic and deadliest mushrooms. The poisoning effects of eating Destroying Angel will only occur after 6-24 hours. The initial symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and severe cramps, which later can turn deadly as the toxins can cause liver and kidney failure.

Meanwhile, the Deadly Webcap (Cortinarius rubellus) produces orellanine. It is a toxin that can slowly damage the kidneys and liver over two weeks. When this happens, prevention or treatment efforts are nearly impossible to work.

What is a death cap mushroom?

Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is a member of the amanita genus, species of wild mushrooms commonly found in Indiana. As its name suggests, it is one of the deadliest mushrooms you must not eat. Once ingested, the toxin will immediately shut you down.

However, despite being one of the most poisonous mushrooms in Indiana, touching a death cap mushroom will cause no harm. They are deadly only when you consume or ingest them. But if you hesitate and are concerned about your safety, you can wear a pair of gloves before having any skin contact with the mushroom.

Can you survive eating a death cap?

Death Cap is one of the two deadly poisonous mushrooms you don’t want to deal with. People who eat the death cap are nearly impossible to survive because it will kill them immediately as it causes organ failure, leading to coma or even death. It is because they bind to the enzyme responsible for creating protein, making it unable to do its job. However, some may live only after a liver or kidney transplant.

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