Poisonous Mushrooms

Poisonous Mushrooms
Unsafe Mushroom


Mushroom poisoning in Victoria, most poisonous fungi are eaten during autumn. The most commonly eaten poisonous mushroom in Victoria is the yellow staining mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus), because it looks very similar to the field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) and the cultivated mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). Many reported cases of fungi poisoning involve young children who find yellow staining mushrooms growing in the garden at home.


If you deliberately eat wild mushrooms in the hope of experiencing a drug-related hallucination, you are very likely to become unwell. The most common symptoms of fungi poisoning are gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains. A few types of fungi are deadly, such as the death cap mushroom. Dr Brett Sutton, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and Dr Teresa Lebel, Senior Mycologist, Royal Botanical Gardens shows the need to be aware of the dangers of death cap mushrooms and other poisonous mushrooms.


There are two types of poisonous mushrooms:


1) Yellow staining mushroom:

The yellow staining mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus) is the most commonly eaten poisonous mushroom in Victoria. This species commonly grows wild in lawns and gardens, and looks very similar to edible mushrooms. Characteristics include:

  • Mushrooms grow on the ground in clusters, often clumped or in ‘fairy rings’.
  • The cap is 50–200 mm in diameter.
  • The cap is usually white, but can become brown with age.
  • The cap of young mushrooms looks a little square.
  • When damaged, the cap and stem stain yellow, fading later to a dirty brown.
  • The mushroom gives off a chemical smell, like disinfectant, iodine or kerosene. This smell is even stronger if you cook them.
  • If eaten, symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (usually within 30 minutes to two hours of consumption). Less common symptoms include headache, dizziness, sweating and drowsiness.


2) Death cap:

The death cap (Amanita phalloides) is potentially fatal if eaten. Characteristics include:

  • Mushrooms grow under oak trees.
  • The cap is 40–160 mm in diameter.
  • The cap ranges in colour from pale yellow to green to olive brown.
  • The gills (ridges on the underside of the cap) are white.
  • The base of the stem has a membranous ‘cup’.
  • Onset of symptoms is anywhere from six to 24 hours after ingestion.
  • Death may occur from liver and kidney damage.
  • One mushroom can contain enough poison to kill an average-sized adult.
  • Cooking, peeling, drying or soaking the mushroom does not make the mushroom edible.


Many varieties of poisonous mushroom grow wild in Victoria. Most young children who eat poisonous mushrooms find them in the garden at home. Children younger than five years of age have a natural inclination to put things in their mouths. If you have a toddler, regularly check your garden for mushrooms and remove them to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning.