Only a small percentage of the 70 to t80 known species of poisonous mushrooms are truly lethal if ingested; nonetheless, several of these fungi have a startling similarity to edible mushroom species and are thus highly hazardous. Continue reading to gain further insight into these harmful poisonous fungi and how you can identify them.
Deadly Dapperling: Its consumption causes severe liver poisoning, which can be fatal if treatment is delayed.
While famous in many parts of the world, mushrooms are often met with intense feelings of either love or loathing at the dinner table. However, mushroom lovers need to be careful about which varieties they consume as roughly 30 wild species are frequently lethal due to high levels of toxicity, while at least 40 other species of mushroom have been confirmed to trigger severe allergic reactions and sometimes death in humans.
There are different poisons in different kinds of mushrooms. So, depending on which poison is involved, mushrooms can cause a wide range of symptoms. Psilocybin is one such toxin. It is present in the recreational magic mushroom. It creates hallucinations by binding to serotonin receptors and releasing neurotransmitters, but it can also trigger potentially fatal convulsions.
Also, dangerous mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes and are found in various habitats. Therefore, they can’t be avoided. However, using reputable field guides to learn to identify them systematically may be a better strategy. Once you are familiar with them, the threat they pose is reduced. But how can you do that? Read on to find out!
List Of The Most Poisonous Mushrooms Worldwide
The vast majority of people cannot determine whether mushrooms are deadly based on their appearance. Even professionals may struggle to distinguish the harmful ones since they can appear so identical to the edible ones. Therefore, it is preferable to err on the side of caution and refrain from eating mushrooms that cannot be positively recognized.
Nevertheless, the following are some of the most common poisonous mushrooms that are found in the gardens, yards, and neighborhoods of the United States.
1. Dapperling Mushrooms (Poisonous Mushrooms)
The best places to look for these mushrooms are on the ground next to trees or in the grass nearby.
|Scientific Name||Genus Lepiota|
|Toxicity||Low to High|
|Native To||Northern Europe|
|Habitat||Lawns, path and road edges, parks, and gardens|
|Size||4 to 10 cm|
|Color||White, Cream, Reddish, Brownish, or Yellowish|
Approximately 400 mushroom species belong to the Lepiota genus, most of which are considered highly poisonous. Moreover, the caps of most Lepiota species range from white to brown, and they may be scaled or smooth.
All Lepiota species are ground-dwelling saprotrophs with a penchant for rich, calcareous soils. No species of Lepiota is considered edible, and many are thought to be highly poisonous. The reason for this is the same as the death cap: they contain amatoxins.
2. Fly Agaric (Poisonous Mushrooms)
Fly agaric grows under birch, pine, and spruce trees in woodlands, parks, and heaths with dispersed trees.
|Scientific Name||Amanita muscaria|
|Native To||The United Kingdom|
|Habitat||Woodland and heathland among birch, pine, or spruce trees.|
|Size||20 cm across and 30 cm tall|
|Color||Scarlet or orange with wart-like spots|
Although this mushroom is notorious for causing fatal poisonings, contemporary medicine has greatly reduced the frequency of such incidents. However, there are many different subspecies of fly agarics, so poisonings can cause a wide range of effects, from stomach problems to allergic reactions and psychedelic effects. Fly agaric is the most recognizable “toadstool” fungus, having inspired cartoon and video game mushrooms. As a whole, it has a white stalk, white gills, and a red crown with white dots.
3. Spectacular Rustgill (Poisonous Mushrooms)
Typically, you’ll find these pumpkin-orange mushrooms growing in groups near the foot of tree stumps.
|Scientific Name||Gymnopilus junonius|
|Native To||Europe, Australasia, and South America|
|Habitat||Stumps of deciduous trees|
|Size||4 to 20 cm|
|Color||Saffron, orange, or ochre|
It is also known as Laughing Jim and is regarded as inedible due to its bitter taste. Although the mushroom is known to be neurotoxic, there is less data on human poisoning due to its consumption. Spectacular Rustgill begins life as a vibrant orange and eventually darkens to a ruddy brown as they age. The cap color varies widely, from a stunning golden hue at times to a prominent orange hue at others. This mushroom truly lives up to its moniker of “Spectacular” when viewed in the blazing sunlight.
3. Deadly Dapperling (Poisonous Mushrooms)
It thrives in fields, parks, and gardens and is frequently confused for edible mushrooms.
|Scientific Name||Lepiota brunneoincarnata|
|Native To||Europe and temperate regions of Asia as far east as China|
|Habitat||Broadleaf and mixed woodlands; occasionally in sand-dune grassland|
|Size||3 to 4 cm|
|Color||Creamy white with a pink flush|
It is similar to the fairy ring champignon, which may also be discovered in grassy regions, but the cap of this species has a pale brown color and does not have scales. When consumed, this extremely poisonous fungus produces gastrointestinal irritation, which is then followed by damage to the liver. If appropriate treatment is not received, it might be fatal. The Deadly Dapperling is rather widespread in public parks and plazas, and unfortunately, it looks a lot like many different species of mushrooms that are edible.
4. Common Earthball (Poisonous Mushrooms)
Common Earthballs have a blackish-purple interior and a warty, yellowish-brown exterior.
|Scientific Name||Scleroderma citrinum|
|Native To||Britain and Ireland|
|Habitat||Acid soils, especially on the compacted paths in forests|
|Size||4 to 10 cm across|
|Color||Tan to brown with a darker wart-like surface|
This fungus is toxic if consumed, and its spores can cause irritation to the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and throat if they are discharged into the air. The Common Earthball mushroom is round, has a spherical body coated in light brown dots, and lacks a stem. In addition, the flesh within a young earth ball is white, occasionally with a pinkish-purple hue. The skin darkens from purple to black as it ages, and tiny white veins appear on the surface.
5. Lilac Bonnet (Poisonous Mushrooms)
Once deemed edible, this mushroom is now off-limits due to trace quantities of muscarine found in it.
|Scientific Name||Mycena pura|
|Native To||Britain, Europe, and Ireland|
|Habitat||In mixed and deciduous woods growing on the leaf litter.|
|Size||1 to 5 cm|
|Color||Purple or lilac|
The lilac bonnet is characterized by a broad cap that ranges in color from white to a very pale purple. The Lilac Bonnet, just like many other species in the genus Mycena, is said to be bioluminescent, releasing a dim green light. These mushrooms are saprotrophic, which means they feed off of dead organisms; you can find them in deciduous and coniferous forests, but grasslands are where you will find them only very infrequently. Although it is well recognized that it contains toxins, very little is known about the effects of eating it.
6. Scaly Vase Chanterelle (Poisonous Mushroom)
The Scaly Vase Chanterelle is not a true chanterelle and is very dense with a scaly orange cap.
|Scientific Name||Turbinellus floccosus|
|Native To||Asia and North America|
|Habitat||Solitary or caespitose under conifers; mycorrhizal|
|Size||Up to 15 cm (6 in) tall and 6 cm (2.4 in) wide|
|Color||Cream-colored and often with yellow-orange tinges|
The body of the scaly vase chanterelle resembles a trumpet and is topped with a bright orange crown. The exterior is often a light beige tint and is covered in creases all over its surface. If not for the mushroom’s superficial similarity to chanterelles, the vast majority of people probably wouldn’t pay any attention to this unusually formed specimen.
Furthermore, although this fungus is known to give some individuals intestinal problems, many indigenous communities worldwide consume it without any issues.
7. Sulfur Tuft (Poisonous Mushroom)
The saprobic Sulphur Tuft feeds on the decaying remains of broadleaf trees and, less frequently, conifers.
|Scientific Name||Hypholoma fasciculare|
|Native To||Britain and Ireland|
|Habitat||Rotting wood & stumps|
|Size||Very variable in cap size|
|Color||Sulfur yellow, often tan, towards the center of the cap|
The sulfur tuft gets its name from its yellow cap. As the mushroom ages, its gills are green, having previously been yellow. Deciduous wood has a lower lignin content than coniferous wood, so that it can be more frequently discovered on rotting deciduous wood.
In most people, eating this fungus will induce digestive pain; nevertheless, it also has the potential to cause impaired vision and paralysis. However, this fungus has such a bitter taste that snacking would be avoided anyway.
8. Satan’s Bolete (Poisonous Mushroom)
The name Boletus is derived from the Greek word bolos, which can be translated as “lump of clay.”
|Scientific Name||Rubroboletus satanas|
|Native To||Southern Europe, Britain, and Ireland|
|Habitat||Under oak and beech trees, generally on chalky soil.|
|Size||Up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter|
Due to its poisonous characteristics, Rubroboletus Satanas is frequently referred to as the Devil’s Bolete (or, by some, Satan’s Bolete). It thrives under the shade of oak and beech trees, which are typically found on calcareous soil. Rubroboletus Satanas is a poisonous fungus, and it is especially dangerous if it is consumed in its raw form.
It causes gastrointestinal symptoms that include intense vomiting as well as diarrhea. However, there have been very few cases of poisoning due to its intimidating look and, at times, foul stench, which discourages casual experimenting.
9. Angel Wing (Poisonous Mushroom)
Angel wing mushrooms thrive on dead or decaying conifer wood, and they are commonly found on tree stumps.
|Scientific Name||Pleurocybella porrigens|
|Toxicity||Low to Hugh|
|Native To||Coniferous woods of Scotland and north England|
|Habitat||Widespread in temperate forests of the Northern Hemisphere|
|Size||2 to 10 cm across|
|Color||White or ivory color|
These contentious mushrooms can be found growing on dead or dying fir trees and on logs and stumps. It is not known how they are toxic, but people with underlying health conditions are at risk of developing fatal encephalopathy from exposure to them. They appear from the end of summer through the fall and seem fond of eastern hemlock.
In most cases, they start completely white and gradually turn a very light yellow as the mushroom matures. Additionally, in contrast to most mushrooms’ typical “toadstool” appearance, these are thin and flat.
10. Deadly Webcap (Poisonous Mushroom)
Deadly Poisonous, one of the most toxic mushrooms, has been known to kill people.
|Scientific Name||Cortinarius rubellus|
|Native To||Forests of Eurasia and North America.|
|Habitat||Found in moist environments as well as drier, upland conifer sites.|
|Size||5 to 10 cm tall|
|Color||Tawny to date brown|
Cortinarius rubellus, often known as the deadly Webcap, is a fungus belonging to the family Cortinariaceae. It is indigenous to the high-latitude temperate to subalpine woods of Eurasia and North America and is popularly known by its common name. These little brown mushrooms have crowns that are concave and relatively small.
This Webcap contains the lethal toxin known as orellanin, which can cause damage to both the kidneys and the liver. It may take up to two weeks before any symptoms appear, at which point the organs have already been severely damaged.
11. Autumn Skullcap (Poisonous Mushroom)
A type of saprobic fungus, which means it gets its nourishment from decomposing organic materials.
|Scientific Name||Galerina marginata|
|Native To||Temperate regions of the world|
|Habitat||On rotting wood of conifers or broadleaved trees|
|Size||1.5 to 5 cm in diameter|
|Color||Yellowish to watery brownish|
In most cases, a colony of these fungi can be found on or in close proximity to a piece of rotting or decaying wood since this provides them with a reliable source of food. The cap of the autumn skullcap mushroom is yellowish-brown in color and initially has a spherical shape. However, as the fungus ages, the cap becomes flatter.
It is full of the same lethal amatoxins that could be found in the death cap. Ingestion of toxic levels results in severe liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, hypothermia, and ultimately death if the condition is not treated as soon as possible.
12. Elfin Saddle (Poisonous Mushroom)
A number of ascomycete fungi that belong to the order Pezizales are collectively referred to as elfin saddle.
|Scientific Name||Gyromitra infula|
|Native To||Britain and Ireland|
|Habitat||In deciduous, mixed, or evergreen forests|
|Size||Typically 2 to 4 cm across the cap|
|Color||Slate grey saddle or fluted black|
These spore shooters, distinguished by their wrinkled caps, do not drop their spores from below but instead fire them out of the top of the mushroom. As is the case with the brain mushroom, there is a common misconception that the elfin saddle can be consumed once it has been cooked. However, it is not true. Even in low concentrations, the poisonous chemical known as gyromitrin that can be found in the mushroom is thought to be a carcinogen and cause severe health issues.
13. Brain Mushroom (Poisonous Mushroom)
The brain mushroom is a unique species in that it is both edible and toxic.
|Scientific Name||Gyromitra esculenta|
|Native To||Asia, Australia, and North America|
|Habitat||Temperate coniferous woodland with sandy, well-drained soils|
|Size||Up to 10 cm (4 in) high and 15 cm (6 in) wide|
|Color||White or pale gray in color|
This mushroom is extremely poisonous if it is ingested in its raw state, yet, it is commonly consumed after being cooked and is regarded as a delicacy in certain regions.
The symptoms of poisoning include throwing up and diarrhea, which, in extreme cases, may be followed by coma and death. In any case, the massive cap of the brain mushroom, which resembles a brain in size and shape, is where the fungus gets its name and its color is typically a deep chocolate brown.
14. Inky Cap (Poisonous Mushroom)
The inky cap mushroom emerges in clusters after rain from rotting wood that has been buried underground.
|Scientific Name||Coprinopsis atramentaria|
|Toxicity||Low to medium|
|Native To||Europe and North America|
|Habitat||Grassland, meadows, disturbed ground, and open terrain|
|Size||Up to 17 cm tall|
|Color||White at first, turning brown and then black|
The cap of an Inky Cap is a grayish-brown color and begins in a bell form before gradually becoming flatter. In spite of the fact that it is poisonous, the inky cap is a fascinating type of mushroom since it may be eaten. When properly cooked and eaten, it does not cause harmful effects but produces discomfort in the digestive tract, a rapid increase in heart rate, and tingling in the limbs when used with alcohol. Because of this, it is occasionally used as a therapy for alcoholism in some places.
15. Yellow Stainer (Poisonous Mushroom)
Do not let yourself be tricked by this mushroom; ingesting it will likely result in feeling rather unwell.
|Scientific Name||Agaricus xanthodermus|
|Native To||Britain and Ireland|
|Habitat||Hedgerows, grassland, open woodland, and beside roads|
|Size||Up to 12cm across|
|Color||Pure white to brown/gray|
The yellow tint that shows when the mushroom is cut is the most defining characteristic of the yellow stainer (typically seen at the base when picked). This mushroom has a very similar appearance to the Cultivated Mushroom and to edible wild mushrooms like the Field Mushroom; it is responsible for the majority of poisonings that occur as a result of eating wild fungi. When cooked, the entire mushroom turns yellow and emits a pungent odor.
Consuming yellow stainers may not have any adverse effects on some people, but for the vast majority of people, it causes significant intestinal irritation.
16. Brown Roll-Rim
Brown Roll-Rim is a deadly poisonous mushroom that causes poisoning hours after intake.
|Scientific Name||Paxillus involutus|
|Native To||United Kingdom|
|Habitat||Broadleaved woodlands, especially those with birch|
|Size||6 20 cm in diameter|
This mushroom was either cooked or preserved for consumption up until the time of the Second World War. Although its raw toxicity was well-known, it was previously thought that heating the fungus made it safe for consumption.
Brown roll-rim fungus is a common and deadly poisonous fungus that resembles edible field mushrooms but is actually brownish-yellow and has a border that folds under to protect the gills, hence the name. It comes in a variety of brown caps, some of which are darker than others, and the caps’ outer edges tend to roll inward.
17. False Champignon
It also goes by the term “sweating mushroom,” which is derived from the signs of poisoning.
|Scientific Name||Clitocybe rivulosa|
|Native To||Europe and North America|
|Habitat||Grassy habitats in summer and autumn in Europe and North America|
|Size||3 to 4 cm|
|Color||Gray, brownish-greenish, light brownish|
Poisonous champignon mushrooms can be found growing beneath pine trees in a wide variety of environments; however, in the early spring, they are most frequently discovered in wooded or other forest-like locations. It is a little white mushroom with a funnel-shaped cap that is between 3 and 4 centimeters in diameter.
Also, it has decurrent, packed white gills that are speckled with pink. The fool’s funnel and the ivory funnel are very similar to one another. Ingestion of it can also result in perspiration and salivation; however, death is an extremely rare side effect.
18. Jack O’Lantern
These mushrooms grow in enormous clusters at tree bases, stumps, and buried wood in summer and fall.
|Scientific Name||Omphalotus illudens|
|Native To||California and Mexico|
|Habitat||At the base of trees, on stumps, or buried wood|
|Size||7 cm to 20 cm wide|
|Color||Dark yellow-orange color|
The Jack-o’-Lantern mushroom is a stunning species that is bright orange in color and grows in dense tufts. It typically develops from the rotting subterranean roots of trees and shrubs, dead stumps, and, less frequently, from broken branches. These mushrooms have green bioluminescence around the gills when they have just been gathered fresh from the forest. Since these mushrooms are commonly confused for chanterelles, they are typically consumed after being cooked. However, the toxicity is still present whether they are eaten raw or cooked, and the majority of people have digestive problems as a result.
19. Fool’s Conecap
The common lawn mushroom, Conocybe filaris, bears the same lethal toxins as the more infamous death cap.
|Scientific Name||Conocybe filaris|
|Native To||Pacific Northwest|
|Habitat||Lawns and wood chips in America’s Pacific Northwest.|
|Size||Less than 3 cm across|
The scientific name for this mushroom is Conocybe filaris; however, you’ll most likely see the name “Conocybe filaris” in fungus field guides. Most of these mushrooms have a long, thin, and delicate stipe, and they are also delicate.
They grow in grasslands on dead moss, dead grass, sand dunes, decaying wood, and manure. This brown cap covers the majority of the tall, slender mushroom. The mushroom is toxic due to the presence of amatoxins, which are harmful to the liver and can result in death.
20. Ivory Funnel
A very dangerously poisonous fungus that every mushroom seeker ought to be familiar with.
|Scientific Name||Clitocybe dealbata|
|Native To||Europe and North America|
|Habitat||Grassy habitats in summer and autumn|
|Size||2 to 4 cm across|
|Color||White or gray/buff-colored|
The ivory funnel is a type of fungus that is predominantly white and takes the shape of a funnel. It grows on grassy meadows and lawns. It is a saprobic mushroom, which means that it feeds on dead and rotting organic debris found beneath the turf and grows in rings and partial rings.
Sweating and salivation are two of the most prominent signs of poisoning, but abdominal pain and problems digesting food are also possible. Poisoning is an infrequent cause of death, and numerous treatments are available.
21. False Parasol
The forest or natural areas and landscape areas are good places to look for false parasols.
|Scientific Name||Chlorophyllum molybdites|
|Native To||North America|
|Habitat||Forests or natural areas, as well as landscape areas|
|Size||4 to 11 inches wide|
|Color||Brown, beige, or pinkish|
One of the reasons why the false parasol is consumed so frequently is because it is so commonly found in lawns that have been meticulously maintained. The mushroom is quite enormous and has a cap that is off-white in color and resembles a parasol.
It stands out amid the grass that is all around it. Even though it is the North American dangerous mushroom that is consumed the most commonly, the fake parasol, thank goodness, does not cause fatalities. However, when ingested, this mushroom is known to produce gastrointestinal distress, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
22. Destroying Angel
The white destroying angel has a ring around its stalk and a big saclike cup around its base.
|Scientific Name||Amanita bisporigera|
|Habitat||In or near the edges of woodlands|
|Size||2 to 5 inches|
|Color||Pure white, or white at the edge and yellowish|
In reality, the destroying angels are several different white-colored mushrooms belonging to the genus Amanita. In the plains of Britain and Ireland, sightings of the Destroying Angel are relatively rare, but the creature is more common in mountainous regions.
Likewise, it is not unusual to come upon it in the low-lying areas of northern Scotland, and it is a fairly common occurrence in the coniferous woods of Scandinavia.
These mushrooms are entirely white, and they are one of the species of mushrooms that are regarded as being among the most dangerous in the world.
23. Death Cap
The deadly poisonous death cap mushroom can be found around Canberra.
|Scientific Name||Amanita phalloides|
|Habitat||Near established oak trees and possibly others|
|Size||Up to 15cm across and 15cm tall|
|Color||A shiny olive-yellow to greenish-bronze cap|
These poisonous mushrooms feature white stems, white gills, and caps that range in color from white to light green. It is known as the death cap mushroom because it is one of the most deadly mushrooms on the planet; just half of a mushroom may kill an adult.
The death cap mushroom is most commonly found in Europe; however, due to the cultivation of non-native tree species, it is now possible to find it in other regions as well.
The Death Cap Mushroom, also known as Amanita phalloides, is a lethal, poisonous imported fungus that is responsible for almost ninety percent of all fatalities associated with the intake of mushrooms.
24. Poison Fire Coral
This poisonous mushroom can literally cause your brain to shrink, and it is found all over the world.
|Scientific Name||Podostroma cornu-damae|
|Native To||Japan and Korea|
|Habitat||The mountains of Japan and Korea|
This extremely rare fungus, indigenous to Asia, has been found to be the cause of death in many people in Japan and Korea.
Among the roughly one hundred or so species of toxic mushrooms that scientists have identified, this is the only one whose toxins may be absorbed through the skin.
Those unfortunate enough to swallow the red fruiting bodies of this fungus are at risk of experiencing various organ failures because they contain strong poisons known as trichothecene mycotoxins.
25. Wood Pinkgill
Often found in big flocks, this highly common pale pinkgill is a staple of deciduous broadleaf forests.
|Scientific Name||Entoloma rhodopolium|
|Toxicity||Low To Moderate|
|Native To||Europe and Asia|
|Habitat||Broadleaf deciduous woodland|
|Size||3 to 5 cm across|
The Wood Pinkgill is an extremely common bird in Britain and Ireland, where it may be found all across broadleaf forests and on the fringes of woodlands. Unfortunately, muscarine is one of many poisons that have been extracted from Wood Pinkgills since its discovery.
That is why, ingestion of this species, which should come as no surprise, has been known to produce a number of quite severe stomach disturbances.
I do not wish to instill in you a sense of dread and terror, but there are toxic mushrooms in the wild. And some of them can be rather lethal. Bear in mind, as well, that ingestion of poisonous mushrooms does not always result in an instantaneous death; rather, the victim may suffer a horrible, drawn-out, and excruciatingly painful end. Therefore, you should exercise extreme caution before selecting mushrooms, and you should avoid consuming any of them until you have determined with absolute certainty that they are not harmful.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the most toxic mushroom?
The Amanita phalloides, sometimes known as the Death Cap mushroom, are widely regarded as the most poisonous type of fungus that can be found anywhere in the world. It is responsible for 90% of all deaths that may be attributed to mushrooms worldwide.
Can mushrooms be harmful to humans?
Some mushrooms can indeed make people sick. Not only toxic mushrooms but some edible mushrooms contain poisonous substances. The amount of intoxication experienced is proportional to how many of these mushrooms are consumed.
How can I tell if a mushroom is poisonous?
Despite widespread assumption, no simple test can tell the difference between edible and toxic species. Only a mushroom expert, also known as a mycologist, can tell you whether or not a wild mushroom is safe to consume. So, don’t eat a mushroom if you have any doubts about whether or not it’s safe to consume.
Are backyard mushrooms poisonous?
In spite of whatever terrifying tales you might have heard, the vast majority of mushrooms found on lawns are entirely safe. That, however, does not mean that you or your kids should be consuming them, but if your pet inadvertently eats one, it should not be a problem.
Where is the death cap mushroom found?
The death cap mushroom can be found in gardens, parks, and urban settings near imported trees. However, it has the potential to move into wild regions over time.
In some areas, death cap mushrooms can be found from late summer through December or continuously throughout the year.
Sources for Further Reading
Mushroom Ingestion- Diagnosis and Management. (2021). Retrieved 25 October 2022, from https://poisoncontrol.utah.edu/news/2021/08/mushroom-ingestion-diagnosis-and-mangement
Poisonous mushrooms on-campus – University of Victoria. (2022). Retrieved 25 October 2022, from https://www.uvic.ca/services/emergency/emergency-procedures/poisonous-mushrooms-on-campus/index.php
Don’t Pick Poison: When Gathering Mushrooms for Food in Michigan (E2777). (2022). Retrieved 25 October 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/dont_pick_poison_when_gathering_mushrooms_for_food_in_michigan_e2777
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