Some rules for recognising edible or poisonous fungi
Number 1: There are no reliable rules for recognising edible or poisonous species of fungi.
There is one question that we get every year in the offices of the Perth Urban Bushland Fungi Project. It sounds something like this...I found a mushroom in my garden and it looks like the one my grandmother used to eat. Can you I eat it?
We have an answer to this and other variations of this question and that is, in essence, 'no'. Without a correct identification, eating any fungi is too risky. We'd love to identify all Perth fungi, but we don't have the resources to take this task on.
Firstly...recognise some common myths
Myth 1: Fungi with a neat, clean appearance are edible, and ugly or messy fungi are poisonous.
Some fungi that are neat and clean looking are definitely poisonous. Conversely, there are fungi that are hideous to look at and disgusting to smell which you could eat.
Myth 2: If another animal is eating it, then it must be safe.
The edibility of a fungus is not necessarily revealed by animals feeding on it.
Myth 3: Poisonous fungi blacken silver.
Myth 4: If it can be peeled it's safe to eat.
Definitely urban myth!
Best Practice when distinguishing edible fungi
The best way to distinguish edible from poisonous fungi is to learn to recognise and identify individual species of fungi. Identification to genus level may be insufficient as some genera have edible and poisonous species. In order to identify species it is recommended that you collect the whole mushroom, including the base of the stem. Correct identification of the mushroom is more likely to be made if all the parts are present. Choose young mushrooms and not older, perhaps maggoty or mouldy mushrooms.
Rule # 1: A cautious approach is the best at all times. If there is the slightest doubt, don't.
Rule # 2: Rather than making a feast of fungi collected from the wild that are unfamiliar to you, it would be better to sample a small portion. Save the feast for next time if you suffer no ill effects.
Rule # 3: Leave some fungi in the fridge – in case you get sick. Identification can be attempted from examination of those mushrooms. Alternatively, mushrooms may need to be sought from left-over scrap heap or from the site where collected. Stomach contents with remnants of fungal tissue and spores can also be examined soon after ingestion.
Rule # 4: Do not collect fungi from sites where they may accumulate high levels of dangerous elements, i.e. by the side of a busy road or near toxic waste dumps.
Some rules for Handling Fungi
Rule Number 1: There is little or no risk of being poisoned by touching mushrooms or toadstools, although some individuals can develop minor skin allergies. However it is a good general practice to wash hands after handling mushrooms.
The bottom linePLEASE NOTE:
Immediately seek medical advice if you suspect poisoning after eating mushrooms.
General information about handling fungi and their edibility and/or poisonous nature is provided in this web site only as a guide. The producers and affiliates of this site accept no responsibility for any consequences of people either correctly or wrongly identifying fungi or experiencing ill effects from using or eating fungi.