Mortal Death Cap, Western Destroyer Angel Mushroom Germ
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The rainy season in San Francisco started off with a soggy start when an atmospheric river crossed in October. At the end of December, the National Weather Service reported that California had already recorded more precipitation than during the entire hydrologic year of last year, from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.
This early wetness has already started to alleviate the drought, with the US Drought Monitor pulling us out of the exceptional drought category.
While the saturated soil is superb for improving water storage and reducing the risk of fire, it has also made wild mushrooms sprout everywhere from suburban backyards to parks.
Among the mushrooms are the mortal death hat and the mushrooms of the Western destroying angels.
âThe death hat and the mushrooms of the Western destroying angels contain amatoxins,â according to a press release from the East Bay Regional Park District, âmolecules that are lethal to many animals if consumed. Symptoms may n ‘appear only up to 12 hours after consumption, starting as severe gastrointestinal distress and progressing to liver and kidney failure if treatment is not sought immediately. “
It is not wise to look for wild mushrooms, according to many naturalists. And if your dog or small child is out, watch them closely when you are near the oak trees.
âBoth of these fungi are primarily associated with oaks and can grow anywhere oak roots are present,â said Trent Pearce, East Bay Regional Park District Naturalist. “They can also be fatal to humans and pets if consumed.”
The death cap is a medium to large sized mushroom that usually has a greenish gray cap, white gills, a white ring around the stem, and a large white sac at the base of the stem. Although the deadly crown is primarily associated with oaks, it has been found growing with other hardwoods.
The Western Destroyer Angel is a medium to large sized mushroom that usually has a creamy white cap, white gills, a white ring around the stem that may fade with age, and a thin white sac at the base. It is associated exclusively with oaks.
âThe best way to stay safe is to learn to recognize our poisonous mushroom species,â Pearce said. âPicking mushrooms in East Bay State Parks is prohibited, but we encourage people to take pictures of them and enjoy them like wildflowers or birds. “
While the Death Hat and Western Destroyer Angel mushrooms are responsible for most cases of mushroom poisoning in California, deadly toxins can also be found in the Galerina and Lepiota mushroom species, which also grow here.
See photos of poisonous mushrooms on the East Bay Regional Park website.
If you’re interested in learning more about wild mushrooms, the Tilden Mushroom Fair 2022 will be held in person from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. January 29-30 at the Tilden Nature Area Environmental Education Center in Berkeley. The presentations and workshops will also be webcast live on YouTube and Instagram. The event is free, no registration is required.
See the latest US Drought Monitor card.