Seven Deadly Mushrooms of North America

Mushroom hunting is becoming a very popular past times. There are a lot of delicious mushrooms out there but there are also mushrooms out there that can kill you. Here are a handful of the most common deadly mushrooms that you might run into. Remember if you are ever in doubt about a mushroom do not chance it.

  1. American Death Cap

Amanita phalloides is highly toxic, and is responsible for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. Death Caps have been reported to taste pleasant. This coupled with the delay in the appearance of symptoms—during which time internal organs are being severely, sometimes irreparably, damaged—makes it particularly dangerous.

Up to the mid-20th century, the mortality rate was around 60–70{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435}, but this has been greatly reduced with advances in medical care. A review of death cap poisoning throughout Europe from 1971 to 1980 found the overall mortality rate to be 22.4{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} (51.3{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} in children under ten and 16.5{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435} in those older than ten). This has fallen further in more recent surveys to around 10–15{5c20afc010e65415aecac9ea1262ea64a0924a29c29fc9ad7cafd2eeb769a435}


  1. Destroying Angel

Amanita bisporigera is a deadly poisonous species of fungus in the family Amanitaceae. It is considered the most toxic North American Amanita mushroom.

Amanita poisoning is characterized by the following distinct stages:[the incubation stage is an asymptomatic period which ranges from 6 to 12 hours after ingestion. In the gastrointestinal stage, about 6 to 16 hours after ingestion, there is onset of abdominal pain, explosive vomiting, and diarrhea for up to 24 hours, which may lead to dehydration, severe electrolyte imbalances, and shock.


  1. Ivory Funnel

Clitocybe dealbata is a small white funnel-shaped toadstool widely found in lawns, meadows and other grassy areas in Europe and North America. Also known as the sweating mushroom, it derives this name from the symptoms of poisoning. It contains potentially deadly levels of muscarine.

The symptoms are those of muscarine poisoning, namely greatly increased salivation, sweating), and tearflow within 15–30 minutes of ingestion. With large doses, these symptoms may be followed by abdominal pain, severe nausea, diarrhea, blurred vision, and labored breathing. Intoxication generally subsides within two hours. Death is rare, but may result from cardiac or respiratory failure in severe cases.


  1. Autumn Skullcap

Galerina marginata is a species of poisonous fungus in the family Hymenogastraceae of the order Agaricales. It is widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, North America, and Asia, and has also been found in Australia.

The toxins found in Galerina marginata are known as amatoxins. Initial symptoms after ingestion include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea which may last for six to nine hours. Beyond these symptoms, toxins severely affect the liver which results in gastrointestinal bleeding, a coma, kidney failure, or even death, usually within seven days of consumption.


  1. False Morel

Gyromitra is a genus of ascomycete mushrooms found in the northern hemisphere. The genus contains about 18 species. They grow in the spring and can be mistaken for the delicious morel mushroom

Some types of Gyromitra are highly poisonous when raw due to the presence of gyromitrin, although some species are edible when cooked and Gyromitra are sought after in Scandinavian countries. Widespread hemolysis has been reported from ingestion which can result in renal failure. Seizures can also develop via inhibition of the neurotransmitter GABA.


  1. Deadly Parasol

Lepiota subincarnata is a gilled mushroom of the genus Lepiota in the order Agaricales. It is known to contain amatoxins and consuming this fungus can be potentially lethal.  Amatoxins are able to travel through the bloodstream to reach the organs in the body. While these compounds can damage many organs, damage to the liver and heart result in fatalities.

Treatment involves high-dose penicillin as well as supportive care in cases of hepatic and renal injury. Silibinin, a product found in milk thistle, is a potential antidote to amatoxin poisoning, although more data needs to be collected.


  1. Smith’s Lepidella

Amanita smithiana is a species of agaric found on soil in coniferous and broadleaved woodland in the Pacific Northwest of North America It is responsible for poisonings in the Pacific Northwest when mistaken for the edible and sought after Tricholoma magnivelare.

It causes initial gastrointestinal symptoms that manifest 1 to 12 hours after eating the mushrooms, followed by acute renal failure after a delay of 2–6 days. This is often severe, requiring hemodialysis, but most patients recover normal kidney function within several weeks.