“ A wild mushroom? Aren’t you scared?”
“What if it’s poisonous?” usually the first two reactions you’ll get from anybody when you tell them you’re going mushroom hunting or when you actually show them some wild mushroom you got from your hunting escapade.
These reactions are to be expected and especially so because the fungal kingdom seems to be a bit of a mystery! Of the 5.1 million fungal species currently estimated to be in existence, the number of identified species is still quite small in comparison.
Since mushroom collecting is growing in popularity – especially for people who enjoy foraging for food in the wild; this post will afford us the opportunity to shift focus
all our attention on the dangers of wild mushroom hunting. Though of course the risks are valid concerns, there is another side to wild mushroom hunting – the medicinal side, the healing side and the delicious side!
Let’s get started with “supposed common things” foragers often overlook.
- hunting mushrooms in the wild should never be thought of as a game of chance – wrong guesses can be as costly as landing you in the hospital for a liver transplant!
- avoid misidentificaton toxic look-alikes (poisonous mushrooms that look like edible ones),
- don’t be too eager to harvest mushrooms from the wild that you fill in the blanks with what they want to see rather than what is actually there especially at the sight of anything remotely close to a desirable mushroom.
- some social media sites are culprit when searching for mushrooms online – foragers please stick to quality and high referenced sites or check up with a local club or expert before consuming collected mushrooms the first time. Many beginners reference common names online and click ‘images’ on their search engine, where many mushrooms are misidentified
- When searching for mushrooms in the wild, inexperienced foragers should search for mushrooms alongside an experienced and trusted mycologist whenever possible.
Let’s take a step further and look at a few simple guidelines. Once you take the right precautions and gain a little education about native mushrooms, hunting wild mushrooms could be an extremely safe activity.
- Join a local mycological (fungi) group. They are located all over the United States. A list is available at the North American Mycological Association.
- Buy a regional field guide to learn what mushrooms grow wild near you.
- Seek to identify at least the genus of the mushroom you have found (identification keys include the stem, a spore print, what the mushroom is growing on and the structure of the stem base, which could be below ground).
- Take two collecting baskets when foraging. Put mushrooms positively identified as edible in one. Put mushrooms you are uncertain about in the other. You won’t get sick by simply touching a toxic mushroom, he said.
- Be extremely careful if you are a pet owner and want to take your dog on a foraging trip. Dogs lead the list as victims of deadly and poisonous mushrooms — more than any other animal or humans.
Looks like this post will have to continue another day. It’s becoming lengthy already and we’ve yet to look at other essentials like edible-toxic-look alikes, images of mushrooms that should be avoided etc. Meanwhile, you can read more here.