Health advisory:
Date Issued:
04 May 2017
Issued by:
Professor Charles Guest, Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Health professionals, consumers

Key messages

  • Extreme caution is advised when picking and consuming wild mushrooms - if in doubt, don't consume.
  • Poisonous mushrooms including Death Cap mushrooms and Yellow-staining mushrooms are currently growing around Victoria as a result of recent heavy rains.
  • Cooking, peeling or drying these mushrooms does not remove or inactivate the poison.
  • There is no home test available to distinguish safe and edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms.
  • Mushrooms purchased from a supermarket, greengrocer or other reputable source are safe to eat.

What is the issue?

Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides).Death Cap mushrooms

Death Cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) are highly poisonous. Consuming just one mushroom can kill an adult. Symptoms of poisoning by Death Cap mushrooms can include violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms may subside after one or two days but this does not indicate recovery. Serious liver damage may well have occurred that may result in death.

These mushrooms grow under oak trees and are 40-160mm in diameter. The cap ranges in colour from pale yellow-green to olive brown and the ridges on the underside of the cap are white. The base of the stem has a membrane 'cup'.

Yellow-staining Mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus).Yellow-staining mushrooms

The Yellow-staining Mushroom (Agaricus xanthodermus) is the cause of most poisonings due to ingestion of wild fungi in Victoria. Consuming Yellow-staining mushrooms causes nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting. The severity of symptoms varies with the amount eaten.

This mushroom looks very similar to regular purchased mushrooms or 'cultivated mushrooms' (Agaricus bisporus) and to edible wild mushrooms such as the field mushroom (Agaricus campestris). In urban areas the Yellow-staining Mushroom is unfortunately much more common than edible mushrooms. It can grow in large troops in lawns and gardens.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has collected and consumed a wild mushroom of unknown species is putting themselves at risk of potential poisoning.

Consuming poisonous mushroom puts you at risk of serious illness. Consuming a Death Cap mushroom may result in death.

Prevention / treatment

In most cases, the sooner treatment can begin, the better the outcome for the patient. If it is suspected that you or your child have eaten a poisonous mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to occur before seeking medical attention. Contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre immediately on 131126 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Australia wide). It is worthwhile to retain and digitally photograph a sample of the mushroom that was consumed, as the Victorian Poisons Information Centre may be able to obtain expert identification of the mushroom in some cases.