Foraging wild mushrooms in the wilderness will be an exciting activity, especially during the summer and fall of Kentucky. You can enjoy a variety of edible mushrooms found on the forest floors and collect them to make delicious side dishes, like pickles. Besides the edible ones, several poisonous mushrooms in Kentucky also grow abundantly during those seasons.
Given they may pose health threats to humans, you must have proper knowledge on how to identify the most poisonous mushrooms in Kentucky. And for that reason, we provide a Kentucky mushroom guide to broaden your insight into these mushroom characteristics and the poisonous mushrooms you must be aware of.
Well, without any further ado, let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
- 1. Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
- 2. Destroying Angel
- 3. False Morel (Gyromitra Esculenta)
- 4. Flower-Pot Parasol (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii)
- 5. Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
- 6. Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata)
- 7. Golden Scalycap (Pholiota aurivella)
- 8. Green-Spored Lepiota (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
- 9. Jack-o-Lantern (Omphalotus Olearius)
- 10. Sulfur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare)
- 11. Yellow Patches (Amanita flavoconia)
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
It is one of the two deadly poisonous mushrooms in the world, which also happens to grow in Kentucky, the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides). This toxic mushroom grows abundantly on deciduous forest floors, particularly under the oak and beech trees. In addition, eating this one will rapidly kill you in a heartbeat. Hence, it is crucial to know how to identify the death cap.
The A. phalloides mushroom has a pale white or yellowish color and creamy gills underneath the cap.
Unfortunately, such characteristics also belong to the edible straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea). So, how to solve this? You can make a spore print. It is the only way to know which one is a poisonous fungus. If the spore print is pink, it is safe to consume. On the other hand, the white spore print indicates that it is a death cap you must not eat.
2. Destroying Angel
Following the previous one, Destroying Angel is also one of the common poisonous mushrooms in Kentucky that are lethal if consumed. It bears a pure white cap and gills with a partial creamy ring (annulus) around the upper stalk that looks like a veil.
The spore print is white, while the texture is soft, like cotton. From summer to late fall, it spreads in the mixed forests close to the trees and sometimes on the grass.
Slightly different from Death Cap, the poisoning effects of eating Destroying Angel will only occur after 6-24 hours. The initial symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and severe cramps. But, if you do not take care of it immediately, it will be deadly as the toxins can cause liver and kidney failure, or worse, death. Sadly, around 60-80% of people do not survive.
3. False Morel (Gyromitra Esculenta)
Generally, Morels (Morchella) are edible. They are, in fact, tasty to cook. However, it is not the case with False Morel. This spring mushroom covers several species whose physical appearance resembles the Morchella (the True Morels).
Unlike the delicious morels, False Morel will poison you once you eat it. Even cooking will not help reduce the gyromitrin toxin. So, how do we characterize them?
Check out the cap shape. If it has ridges or pits with a more uniform shape, it is a True Morel, and you can enjoy it. In contrast, the False Morel will display a rough and wavy form. Furthermore, take note of the stem. The hanging stem or stalk indicates the poisonous mushroom, while the attached stalk is the edible one.
Lastly, the non-edible morel shows cotton-like or chunk tissue instead of the hollow inner part in the edible mushroom when you cut it open from top to bottom.
4. Flower-Pot Parasol (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii)
As its name bears, Flower-Pot Parasol mushroom or Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is a fungus that generally grows in your plant containers. They are easily recognized by their small, bell-shaped, vibrant yellow caps wrapped in yellow powder. The free gills are yellowish-white, while the spore print is smooth and white.
Behind the beauty and uniqueness of this yellow mushroom, the stems and fruits store poison with medium severity that will upset your stomach if eaten. You may notice signs like diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
In addition, they have spores that may fly when the mushroom opens. Though harmless, they can cause allergic reactions to those who have fungus allergies. Hence, remove the mushrooms as soon as they grow in your flower pot.
5. Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
You may be familiar with Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria). It features in many cartoons as the bright mushroom. But unfortunately, the facts are the opposite of its beautiful appearance because it is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in Kentucky. Because of its toxic alkaloids, you will experience diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea if you eat it.
Also, it belongs to the wild psychedelic mushrooms that cause hallucinations.
Furthermore, you can quickly identify these poisonous mushrooms as they grow in abundance in the forests during summer. The cap is bright red or orange with tiny white dots, while the stalk and gills are also white. In addition, the smell is savory. But again, don’t you dare to eat it if you don’t want to end up in the hospital.
6. Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata)
Speaking of toxic mushrooms, it is impossible to exclude Galerina marginata or Funeral Bell. As creepy as its name, this fungus is very poisonous. In fact, it contains the same fatal toxin as the Death Cap, the amatoxins.
When poisoned by these mushrooms, people may experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, leading to liver damage and death if left untreated. Therefore, understanding its characteristics is crucial.
It has a brown cap, which can change color when there is a change in humidity. The cap itself is a convex or conical shape. Moreover, the edges can curl towards the tan, crowded gills. Unlike Death Cap with white spore print, the Funeral Bell has a snuff brown color. You can find this dangerous mushroom growing in clusters on tree stumps in the open grassland.
7. Golden Scalycap (Pholiota aurivella)
There is a reason why Pholiota aurivella is more famous as Golden Scalycap. Just look at the cap! It seems painted with gold, shining on the tree trunk. Unlike other Pholiota species, this mushroom is one of the poisonous fungi in Kentucky.People reported having gastrointestinal problems after eating it. So, it will be helpful if you know how to identify it.
Fortunately, thanks to its bright golden yellow cap, you can recognize it in a blink of an eye. The surface is slimy with a touch of brown marks. Moreover, the stem is a bit dark brown, while the texture is sticky. Furthermore, it usually grows in clusters on trees, logs of hardwoods, and conifers.
8. Green-Spored Lepiota (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
Chlorophyllum molybdites or Green-Spored Lepiota is another threat here. It is a toxic mushroom that will make you ill, causing serious gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, the symptoms are violent and can quickly hospitalize you. Well, you don’t want that to happen, do you? Let us tell you how to check on the mushrooms!
They can grow anywhere, but their natural habitat is on the lawns, meadows, and pastures from June to September. You can see large and broad caps atop tall cream stems with white colors that stand out in the middle of the greenery. The gills are initially white, then turn to brown-gray as they age. In addition, the spore print is green, unlike the true Lepiotas, which mostly have white colors.
9. Jack-o-Lantern (Omphalotus Olearius)
The mushroom’s name is quite fancy, isn’t it? Well, it contrasts the fact that Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius) is one of the most poisonous toadstools in Kentucky. Omphalotus olearius gets its name because of its striking cap with honey color and growing from July to October, which is Halloween! Moreover, the smell is pleasant but intense.
Nonetheless, don’t be carried away by its attractive appeal because it can rapidly make you fall sick when you eat it. Despite not having a fatal effect, consuming toxic Jack-O-Lanterns will upset your digestive system, leaving you with severe diarrhea and vomiting for hours to days. Given its unpleasant effects, don’t try to pick them up from decaying stumps or under oak trees where they thrive.
10. Sulfur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare)
Hypholoma fasciculare, or Sulfur Tuft mushroom, is a species of fungus that is dangerous for consumption. It contains a toxic steroid called fasciculol. Even though there are no reports about death cases, eating this poisonous mushroom can lead to stomach upset. And the worst things that may happen are temporary paralysis and distorted vision.
To determine whether you find Sulfur Tuft or not, you must observe its attributes. They generally grow in clusters year round on decaying woods or fallen trees. As the name implies, the color of the cap of this fungus is sulfur yellow with paler edges. The yellowish green gills are crowded, while the flesh is creamy yellow. In addition, it has a purple or brown spore print and an ellipsoid shape.
11. Yellow Patches (Amanita flavoconia)
Another toxic Amanita is here, the Amanita flavoconia or the Yellow Patches mushroom. It has a high severity poison characteristic and is suspected to be harmful as other Amanitas. Despite not many reports about its fatality, Yellow Patches must not be eaten! You will experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and dizziness around 30 minutes to several hours after consuming the fungus.
As it typically appears through summer in the midwest to eastern North America, foragers must know how to characterize it. They commonly scatter around hardwood trees, especially oaks, and also under the pines. Moreover, it has a yellow to orange cap with a pale stem and crowded white gills. However, the most distinctive hallmark of this fungus is the fragmented veil at the base with a yellow mark.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do You identify a mushroom?
To identify a mushroom, you must first check on several parts of its body: the cap, ring (annulus), stem or stalk, shapes and color, volva, and spores.
- The cap. Observe underneath the caps to see whether the mushroom has gills, pores, tubes, veins, or teeth. It will tell you what mushroom you are examining.
- The ring or annulus. Some mushrooms grow rings, and some don’t. Others have it for a certain period, and the ring will disappear as it ages. Thus, it is a vital part of the fungi to help you identify it.
- The stem or stalk. Most mushrooms have a stem or a stalk, but a few do not. You can group the stem based on its color and shape, guiding you to the specific mushroom species.
- The shape and color. These components are related to other body parts as every mushroom bears shades and conditions, which will group them to the same species they belong to.
- The volva. Since not all mushrooms have a volva, you better gently dig them up to determine whether they have this part or not.
- The spores. Several fungi have distinctive spores with different colors. You can examine them by creating a spore print and checking it under the microscope.
Why is mushroom identification important?
Mushroom identification is crucial to differentiate between poisonous and edible mushrooms because they may appear similar. It is especially vital for foragers who often collect wild mushrooms in the forests.
Furthermore, the same mushroom species can look similar to other mushrooms at different stages. Thus, you must identify mushrooms whenever they are collected. After knowing their key characteristics, the foragers can decide whether they can eat these wild mushrooms or not.
What happens if you touch a death cap mushroom?
Despite being one of the most poisonous mushrooms in Kentucky, touching a death cap mushroom will cause no harm. They are deadly only when you consume or ingest them. However, 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?
With Destroying Angel, Death Cap is one of the two 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.
What is the home remedy for mushroom poisoning?
Suppose the emergency hospital room is full or far away from your home. In that case, you can take activated charcoal as first aid for mushroom poisoning. 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.