Don’t pick poison

State officials warn against picking wild mushrooms

The rainy season is here, so you’re likely to see mushrooms poking up all over the place, especially if you travel to coastal areas. But be wary: Contrary to popular myth, poisonous mushrooms aren’t always brightly colored. In fact, they typically look like most edible varieties, according to California Poison Control System (CPCS), which recently released a warning against picking and eating wild mushrooms. Last winter’s heavy rains produced a bumper crop of Amanita phalloides—aka “death cap” mushrooms—and an increase in human poisonings reported to the CPCS. In a statement, Dr. Craig Smollin, medical director at CPCS for the San Francisco area, said, “No matter how experienced one is at mushroom identification, there is always a risk in eating wild mushrooms,” adding that buying cultivated mushrooms from a grocery store or farmers’ market is your best bet.

Untreated poisoning can lead to liver damage or death. Symptoms typically develop six to 12 hours after ingestion and include:

• abdominal pain

• cramping

• vomiting

• diarrhea