"Death Cap" Mushrooms Live Up to Their Name

By Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 8:00 AM PDT
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A Peak Inside the White House Kitchen

Darvin DeShazer, BayNature

The death cap mushroom, officially known as amanita phalloides, has a dusty green cap and look rather tasty. The pure white gills under the cap are the dead giveaway of their toxicity.

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Spending time together in the great outdoors and picking out dinner together as a family is admirable but those two activities should remain separate.

That's the tragic lesson from a Lodi, California family.

Maybe if they had known the more common name of the amanita phalloides was the "death cap mushroom," they would not have picked them, taken them home and cooked them into dinner. Instead, they found out the hard way that the meaty-looking fungus with the green cap can kill.

Three family members were hospitalized earlier this month after picking and eating the so-called death cap mushrooms at a Lodi park. Over the weekend, one of them died.

A spokesman for the California Pacific Medical says the woman's husband, who also ate the mushrooms, was released from the hospital Monday. A cousin who also ate the mushrooms is responding well after receiving a liver transplant.

The mushrooms are among the world's most lethal, with officials warning that even experienced mushroom gatherers can mistake the potentially deadly mushrooms for the edible varieties.

So, there is the lesson. If the fungus even fools the experts, don't take the risk. Stick to the grocery store for the menu.

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