Somebody landed on this blog after searching “upset stomach mushrooms”, and this got me thinking that since a lot of would-be mushroom-hounds have been visiting this blog, I should make a few comments.
I don’t know how many species of mushrooms there are in Ontario – at least hundreds, maybe over a thousand. Most of those species are not good to eat. When I say not good to eat, I mean they can cause anything from mild gastro-intestinal upset to death. Yes there are killer mushrooms in Ontario.
I know there are people who eat mushrooms based on vague information passed down from past generations. I’ve heard stories of so-called poison tests involving silver dimes and so forth, and I know there are some people who traditionally go through a specific rigamarole involving multiple boilings or pickling or whatever. People I’ve met in the woods have had buckets of mushrooms I know are very difficult to identify as safe. They tell me, “I’ve eaten these for 30 years and I’m OK”.
I don’t know by what streak of luck or by what voodoo these folks haven’t been poisoned. Maybe they’ve learned by experience and have clues to identification I don’t know. They’re going to do what they do and I hope they’re OK. Since I know there are nasty mushrooms out there, and since I don’t want to eat poisonous ones and die, I try to identify mushrooms and in truth, each year I mostly pick for the table the same handful of species that I can easily identify.
Each fall a few mushrooms grow out of the mulch I have in part of my back yard. I think maybe they are blewits. I’ve picked them, taken spore prints, compared them to pictures, then I’ve discarded them. I’m just not sure. Perhaps if a more experienced picker looked at them and said yay or nay I might be convinced. The characteristics seem almost right. Almost. But there’s no such thing as being almost poisoned.
I know people who eat orange-capped scaber-stalks – Leccinums. I also know there have been possible poisonings from these mushrooms. One person I know who eats them says, no, they’re fine I eat them all the time and I’ve never had a problem. He continues to eat them without consequence. It’s been suggested to me that the ones that caused the poisonings were a western sub-species and the ones here in Ontario are fine. Maybe. Still, when I see these in the woods I leave them be. Who is right? I don’t know. I do know that one of the people who has been made sick by orange-capped scaber-stalks is a very respected mushroom expert. I’m OK with being wrong in this case.
When I look at the stats for this blog I see that many people stop and look at my mushroom posts. I’m posting these notes because I don’t want anyone to be sick. Please identify mushrooms carefully before eating them. Please be sure every time. Be careful about what you read on the internet….it many not all be 100% accurate. Sometimes a photo is not enough to do a reliable identification.