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Poisonous Mushrooms In New Zealand

Poisonous Mushrooms In New Zealand

There are many different species of poisonous mushrooms in New Zealand and many poisonous mushrooms like very similar to "non toxic' mushrooms. Even tiny amounts of some mushrooms can cause serious poisoning.

Which Kinds Of Mushroom Are Poisonous?

NEVER try to identify a mushroom yourself. Textbooks and the internet are not a reliable source for identification since poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms often look alike. Only an experienced mycologist can properly identify a mushroom.

Even "non-toxic" wild mushrooms can sometimes cause poisoning due to excessive consumption, difficulty in digestion, spoiled fungi, presence of heavy metals, parasitic growth in fungi or spore allergies

What Kinds Of Symptoms Do Toxic Mushrooms Cause?

There are many different types of toxic mushrooms, and they cause a variety of effects.

Some mushrooms cause vomiting and diarrhea, others may cause slowing of the heart rate and lowering of the blood pressure, some cause hallucinations and seizures, and others can cause life-threatening liver and kidney toxicity.

Some types of mushroom poisoning can occur rapidly, whereas some very toxic mushrooms can have symptoms that are delayed for several days or weeks. It is very important not to wait for symptoms to occur, and to take the person to a doctor as soon as possible after the ingestion.

How Can I Prevent Poisoning From Mushrooms In My Home?

Only eat mushrooms which are bought at a supermarket or market garden. Never eat wild or unknown mushrooms.

Remove all mushrooms growing in your garden. Mushrooms are only toxic by ingestion, so it is OK to handle the mushrooms, even toxic ones, and throw them away in your usual rubbish. Do not compost mushrooms, as this will spread the spores.

In most cases, it is not practical to have all mushrooms identified. This can only be done by a professional mycologist.

A Person Has Eaten An Unknown Mushroom. What Do I Do?

  • Immediately call the National Poisons Centre on 0800 POISON
  • Take the person to a medical centre or hospital for activated charcoal (This binds the toxin in the stomach and prevents it from being absorbed, it is best if the person receives this within an hour of ingestion)
  • Take a sample of the mushroom (preferably a whole mushroom including the stalk and base) and put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • If possible, also take close detailed photographs of the mushroom from all angles
  • After the person has been seen by a doctor and sent home, monitor them for a week
  • If they have any symptoms of unwellness, take the person and the mushroom back to the doctor
  • The doctor will call the NPC and the mushroom may be identified by a professional mycologist

Related Resources
National Poisons Centre: Poisonous Plants in New Zealand - A National Poisons Centre brochure detailing poisonous plant information as well as first aid and prevention information
Plants in New Zealand Poisonous To Children - A pamphlet detailing many plants available in New Zealand that are poisonous to children
Poisonous Mushrooms associated with trees in NZ - A poster of poisonous mushrooms that are associated with trees in New Zealand.
Safety In Pre-School Centres: Plants to Avoid - A pamphlet listing a number of poisonous plants which should not be grown in pre-school centres
Some poisonous mushrooms found in open places - A poster of poisonous mushrooms that are found in open places in New Zealand.
Some poisonous mushrooms on wood or wood debris - A poster of poisonous mushrooms that are associated with rotting and buried wood in New Zealand.

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University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre

Last updated 28/11/2012

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