Top 5 Deadliest Mushrooms

Top 5 Deadliest Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been popular food items for thousands of years. From shiitakes in Asia to truffles in Greece and Rome, mushrooms continue to fascinate people thanks to their colors, shapes, and even their potential for death.  

The fact that poisonous mushrooms exist is common knowledge but people might not know what to look for. Many people may be familiar with the dangers of the Death Cap mushroom, but there are other deadly mushrooms too. Here are five mushrooms that aren’t the Death Cap that people should be wary of.  

Conocybe filaris 

Conocybe filaris might look innocent but it’s one of the deadliest mushrooms out there. It contains the same mycotoxins as the Death Cap and will likely result in death if eaten. There are gastrointestinal symptoms that mimic food poisoning and will usually occur six to 24 hours after consumption.  

Some people can recover but there are some instances where symptoms reappear and cause liver or kidney failure.  

Cone Caps

Source: Myco Portal

What Do They Look Like?  

Conocybe filaris has a brown cone-shaped top and is quite small at about three centimeters across. The stalk ranges from one to six centimeters long. When looking at the gills, conocybe filaris have close, rusty brown-colored gills.  

Where Are They Located?  

The conocybe filaris is found in the Pacific Northwest in the United States. They are usually spread through lawns and wood chips.  


Webcaps (Cortinarius species) 

Webcaps (Latin name: cortinarius species) are especially dangerous because it looks remarkably similar to safe, edible mushrooms. The two kinds of webcaps, the deadly webcap, and the fool’s webcap, both contain a poison called orellanin which causes flu-like symptoms. 

When eaten, these mushrooms can take two to three weeks before causing symptoms, which is why it’s commonly misdiagnosed when they do appear. If not treated, there can be kidney failure or even death.  


Deadly Webcap

Source: First Nature


What Do They Look Like?  

Unfortunately, webcaps look similar to other mushrooms so it can be hard to distinguish them. They are usually rusty brown to brownish red, and are often used for dyes.  

Where Are They Located?  

The cortinarius species are commonly found in Europe and North America, although there are one species found in Australia that is brightly colored.  


Autumn Skullcap / Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata) 

The autumn skullcap, or also known as the Deadly Galerina, likes to grow on rotting wood and contains the same amatoxins as the Death Cap mushroom. If eaten, the autumn skullcap can cause diarrhea, liver damage, vomiting, hypothermia, and potentially death.  

Luckily, the autumn skullcap is quite distinctive looking, but there have been reports that foragers mistake them for psilocybe mushrooms, which are hallucinogenic.  


Deadly Galerina

What Do They Look Like?  

Autumn skullcaps have rusty brown gills and a cinnamon brown top. They are quite small and, as mentioned, are often confused for psychedelic mushrooms. One helpful tip to note is that the hallucinogenic psilocybe will bruise blue, whereas autumn skullcaps will not.  

Where Are They Located?  

The Northern Hemisphere (North America, the northern part of Africa, and most of Asia) and parts of Australia are where autumn skullcaps are commonly found.  

Destroying Angels (Amanita species) 

The Destroying Angel mushroom actually consists of several all-white mushrooms in the genus Amanita. They look similar to button mushrooms and meadow mushrooms. If ingested, symptoms can occur anywhere from five to 24 hours and include stomach flu symptoms, convulsions, delirium, liver and kidney failure, and death.  


Destroying Angel Mushroom


Source: Wild Food UK


What Do They Look Like?  

Destroying angels do not really look like angels but they are all white (white stalk and gills). Sometimes the cap can be yellow, pink, or tan at the center. It has a ring circling the top of the stalk and the gills are not attached to the stalk.  

Destroying angels’ distinctive feature is the volva, which is similar to a veil and encircles the entire mushroom like an egg.  

Where Are They Located?  

Destroying angels are found around the world but they are usually growing near certain tree roots, woodlands, lawns, or grassy meadows.  


Deadly Dapperling (Lepiota brunneoincarnata) 

The Deadly Dapperling contains poisonous amatoxins, although it’s not as toxic as some other mushrooms. If accidentally eaten, the Deadly Dapperling can cause liver toxicity and other uncomfortable symptoms. Death can be avoided if immediate treatment is given.  

Deadly Dapperling


Source: First Nature


What Do They Look Like?  

Deadly Dapperling is a gilled mushroom that is white underneath and brown on top. They have rings on their stems, which become moveable as the mushroom grows and gets older. The cap often has “scales” which are brown in color and reveal the white underneath.  

Where Are They Located?  

These mushrooms are found throughout the warmer parts of Europe (the southern countries) and parts of Asia, although some have reported sightings in Germany and the United Kingdom. 

Symptoms Of Mushroom Poisoning 

Mushroom poisoning mimics a lot of other illnesses, especially food poisoning or the stomach flu. The most common symptoms of mushroom poisoning include, but are not limited to:  

  • Gastrointestinal issues: this includes a wide range of symptoms ranging from diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramping.  
  • Hallucinations: while some mushrooms are eaten specifically for their hallucinogenic properties, poisonous mushrooms can cause some hallucinations before death.  
  • Organ toxicity: Poisonous mushrooms affect a myriad of organs, from the liver, kidney, stomach, and brain, and can result in the shutting down of vital organ function.  
  • Neurological symptoms: this includes headaches, vision issues, and vertigo  
  • Seizures: this is related to neurological symptoms, but some toxic mushrooms can induce seizures in individuals because of a lack of oxygen in the brain. 


Ways To Identify Poisonous Mushrooms 

It can be hard to identify poisonous mushrooms, especially because so many of them look similar to edible mushrooms that are safe. Luckily, there are some basic tips to help with poisonous mushroom identification:  

  • Gills: in general, avoid mushrooms with white gills. Also, taking a gill print on dark paper can tell a lot. If the print comes out white, it’s likely to be poisonous.  
  • Colors: a good rule of thumb is that mushrooms that are red, orange, yellow, or white should be picked with caution. Poisonous mushrooms tend to be more colorful.  
  • Scales and warts: If a mushroom cap has a bunch of scales or warts, take caution.
  • Rings: look for rings around the stem of the mushroom. A few poisonous mushrooms will have rings on the stem right under the cap. 




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