Mushrooming guidelines  Our guide to picking & eating mushrooms.

Here are a few golden rules to help you limit the risk of picking and eating a toxic mushroom species.


Parasol Macrolepiota procera © Ita McCobb

Unfamiliar mushroom species

Check and recheck your identification, in particular looking out for similar poisonous mushroom species. If in doubt, DON’T RISK IT, ask an expert or throw it away.

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Don’t mix mushroom species

Do not mix different mushroom species in your collecting basket or bag. Use a separate bag for each species. It is a good idea if collecting for the pot to only collect edible species so as not to risk mixing them with other species you may have wanted for identification purposes.

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Examine each mushroom specimen

Always check each mushroom in case a different species has got in amongst your collection of edible ones.

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Don’t eat raw wild mushrooms

Some mushrooms such as the Wood blewit Lepista nuda, the Blusher mushroom Amanita rubescens, and species of Helvella mushroom are poisonous if eaten raw. Always cook your mushrooms before you eat them.

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Always keep back an uncooked mushroom specimen

Unless you are eating commercially sold edible mushrooms, always keep back one uncooked example of what you have eaten in the fridge, this will help others identify what you have eaten and make it easier to treat you if the mushroom makes you ill.

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Only eat good fresh mushrooms

Many poisoning cases occur when poor quality edible species are eaten. Only eat good fresh mushrooms and check for maggot holes in case there are any inside!

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Keep your mushroom collections in the fridge

This helps preserve your mushrooms before you cook them – don’t keep them more than 3 days before cooking.

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Reactions to a mushroom species

When eating a species for the first time, only eat a small amount. Different people react to mushrooms in different ways and it is safer to test your body’s reaction cautiously!

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Alcohol & mushrooms

Avoid drinking alcohol with all species you haven’t eaten before. Some mushrooms such as the Common inkcap Coprinus atramentarius can be poisonous when you eat them if you drink alcohol at the same time.

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Fear of mushrooms

Do not feed wild mushrooms to people who don’t want to eat them. Fear itself can make people sick!

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Mushroom susceptibility

Do not serve wild mushrooms to young children or old or sick people, their resistance to a mushroom’s toxicity may be low.

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Eating large quantities of mushrooms

Don’t eat large quantities of wild mushrooms in one sitting. This can lead to a build-up of toxicity in your body that may be more than you can cope with and could make you sick.

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References: The British Mycological Society; Guides for the Amateur Mycologist – No.4, Guide for the Kitchen Collector: Preservation and Cooking of Fungi, Shelley Evans, BMS, 1994; Identifying Mushrooms, Peninsula Mycological Circle;