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.
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
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.
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.
- 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