When I moved to the South a decade or so ago, I enthusiastically indulged in everything the area had to offer from hiking in the Bankhead National Forest to sampling Central Alabama’s wealth of incredible breweries.
But the new hobby at that time I’d fallen hard for and one that continues till today is mushroom foraging. There are in fact two reasons I like hunting for mushrooms – their taste and the fact that hunting allows me to immerse in the outdoors.
But it’s important to educate yourself on the different species of mushrooms to be safe from accidental poisoning.
Though mushroom-related deaths are rare in the United States, it’s best to follow the cardinal rule – “when in doubt, throw it out”. That said, let’s take a look at 5 poisonous mushroom species that you should avoid under any circumstances.
Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Identification (Table)
|Poisonous Mushroom Type||Identification|
|Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides)||Caps range in color, starting from greenish-yellow, and brown to tan|
|Destroying Angel||Skirt-like ring, white spore print, and sac-like cup at the stalk’s bottom|
|Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)||Pointed white warts with a white underside|
|Conocybe Filaris||Stalk is roughly 2 mm thick and 1 to 6 cm long, smooth, and brown|
|Podostroma Cornu-Damae||Deathly red color that resembles flames|
Poisonous Lawn Mushroom Types (Including Pictures)
There are 4 types of mushroom categories:
Some mushrooms can fall into one or more categories such as psychedelic mushrooms (sometimes referred to as magic mushrooms), which are edible but also considered toxic and dangerous.
1. Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides)
Death Cap is billed as one of the most poisonous mushrooms and is responsible for most human fatalities worldwide. Scientifically called Amanita Phalloides, Death Cap contains three main groups of toxins namely amatoxins, phallotoxins, and virotoxins.
Native to Europe, Death Cap was brought to North America on the roots of imported trees and is today found as an invasive species on every continent except Antarctica.
What Does Death Cap Look Like?
Death Cap is a bit tricky to identify because it looks similar to many species of mushrooms that are non-poisonous. Its caps range in color, starting from greenish-yellow, and brown to tan.
The caps of Death Cap can range in size too from about 4 to 16 cm (about 1.5 to 6 inches) in diameter and generally start out round and oval-shaped and become convex or flat with age.
Symptoms When Consumed
- Bloody diarrhea
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Excessive vomiting
- Intense thirst
2. Destroying Angel (Amanita Bisporigera)
You can guess just by the name how harmful Destroying Angel can be, and just like Death Cap is accountable for the overwhelming majority of deaths due to mushroom poisoning.
Destroying Angel is frequently found in the lowlands and woodland areas and usually appears in July, August, and September. It is loaded with amatoxins, enough to kill humans, and is regarded as a nightmare of mushroom foragers everywhere.
What Does Destroying Angel (Amanita Bisporigera) Looks Like?
What’s confusing is that there are several different types of Destroying Angel mushrooms that can be found with dozens of life-looking species.
However, an easy way to tell apart Destroying Angel mushrooms from other types of mushrooms is by features such as a skirt-like ring, white spore print, and sac-like cup at the stalk’s bottom.
The cap of Destroying Angel mushrooms can be pure white, or white at the edge and yellowish, pinkish, or tan at the center.
Symptoms When Consumed
The symptoms of destroying mushrooms can start several hours of ingestion and include:
- Severe vomiting
- Abdominal pains
3. Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)
Commonly referred to as the fly agaric or fly amanita, Amanita muscaria is a true cosmopolitan species that’s found in forests, pastures, and fields. It is a hallucinogen mushroom and is considered poisonous and was once used as a fly poison.
Amanita muscaria usually occurs in the same place for several years and is native to several countries including Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, Asia, the USA, and Canada.
These attractive fungi have also been featured in popular culture, including in video games like the Mario franchise and the Super Mushroom power-up.
What Does Fly Agaric Look Like?
Fly agaric first emerges from the leaf litter of the forest floor and is covered entirely with pointed white warts with a white underside. In the USA and Europe, this poisonous mushroom is found with red coloration as well as an orange-yellow form.
Despite its easily distinguishable features, Fly agaric has several known variations or sub-species, where some have yellow or white caps. But most can are easily recognizable with their yellow or white caps
Symptoms When Consumed
Fly agaric is generally consumed accidentally by kids and pets or purposefully by people seeking a hallucinogenic experience. It contains muscimol, muscarine, and other toxic alkaloids and illness usually begins after a few hours of ingestion.
- Excess salivation
- Slowed and difficult breathing
- Watering of the eyes
- Dilated pupils
4. Conocybe Filaris
Conocybe filaris grows is humid conditions and damp conditons and is a poisonous mushroom that is especially seen in the northwest. It is also known as Pholiotina filaris and contains the same mycotoxins as the death cap mushroom.
There are 50 different species of Conocybe filaris in North America, most of which grow in dead moss, dead grass, sand dunes, decayed wood, and dung, which is why they are sometimes called dunce caps.
What Does Conocybe Filaris Look Like?
Conocybe filaris features rusty brown gills that are closed and adnexed. The stalk of Conocybe filaris is roughly 2 mm thick and 1 to 6 cm long, smooth, and brown complete with a prominent and movable ring. The cap of Conocybe filaris is conical in shape and less than 3 cm across.
Common Symptoms When Consumed
Conocybe filaris has been shown to contain amatoxins, which are a significant cause of acute fulminant liver failure. Adding to this, amatoxins are not destroyed by cooking; neither are they destroyed by freezing or freeze-drying.
- Food poisoning
- Stomach flue and other digestive symptoms
- Watery diarrhea
- Frequent urination
5. Podostroma Cornu-Damae
Also known as the poison fire coral, Podostroma cornu-damae is a species of fungus in the family Hypocreaceae. This toxic mushroom may look edible but has killed several people in Japan and Korea after ingestion.
Until recently, poison fire coral was only thought to be native to Japan and Korea, but other recent sightings suggest that this dangerous organism is much more widespread than previously assumed.
In fact, most people affected by poison fire coral used it to brew tea after confusing it with an edible fungus used in traditional medicine.
What Does Podostroma Cornu-Damae Look Like?
Poison fire coral is easy to distinguish from other poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms with its deathly red color that resembles flames. It is typically found around decaying vegetation and mulch but is also seen in wood chips, tree stumps, and soil including fresh soil and healthy soil.
Symptoms When Consumed
The symptoms of poison fire coral are a bit different than the other poisonous mushrooms on this list. This deadly mushroom can literally shrink your brain and shouldn’t be touched and definitely not eaten.
It is perhaps the only toxic mushroom whose toxins can be absorbed by the skin, causing inflammation and dermatitis. Other symptoms of poison fire coral include:
- Stomach pains
- Peeling skin
- Hair loss
- Impairments such as speech and changes in perception
- Organ failure
Here’s an informative video about 7 Common Poisonous Mushrooms You Should Know:
What Is The Most Poisonous Mushroom?
The Death Cap is billed as the most poisonous mushroom in the world. It grows widely in Europe and North America and can easily fool foragers from countries where death caps don’t exist but the lookalikes do.
People who have munched on Death Cap say Death Cap smells similar to honey and has a pleasant taste when cooked with other food.
Research indicates that Death Cap is responsible for 90 percent of mushroom-related deaths globally. What makes Death Cap so poisonous is a peptide called Amanitin, which contains psychoactive alkaloids: muscarine, ibotenic acid, and muscimol.
The symptoms of Death Cap poisoning occur quickly within 6 to 24 hours after purposeful or accidental ingestion and include abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage in worse cases if not treated.
Read my detailed article on why mushrooms grow in lawns
How to Keep Pets and Family Safe From Poisonous Lawn Mushrooms
Mushroom poisoning can be lethal but there are a few things you can do to keep pets and family safe from poisonous mushrooms growing in your yard or region.
- The best and most effective way to keep kids and pets safe from toxic mushrooms and bodies of fungi is to remove them from your yard before they cause digestive issues and other problems that may require emergency care like kidney failure.
- Next, you can set up a fence around the poisonous mushrooms to keep kids and pets at bay.
- It’s also recommended that you supervise your kids if what you think are poisonous mushrooms growing in your yard.
How to Get Rid of Poisonous Mushrooms On Your Lawn
There are several ways to get rid of and prevent mushrooms from growing in your yard and nearby environments.
The first thing worth noting is that mushrooms love damp, moist conditions and dark areas to live off decay. They grow on your lawn due to compacted soil, excess shade in your yard, pet waste, and tree stumps.
You should be careful when removing poisonous varieties of mushrooms as their spores can easily spread. Here are some effective ways to bid adieu to pesky mushrooms in your healthy lawn.
1. Dig them Out
Although this can be a daunting task, digging up the mushrooms is a great way of removing mushrooms from your yard permanently but there’s a right and wrong way to do it.
Before getting started, wear safety gloves and eyewear to keep yourself safe during the task. You can either use your hands or a spade to dig up the poisonous mushrooms.
You can pull each mushroom individually by hand or dig each one out with a spade but make sure that you dig up the mushrooms with their roots.
The best time to remove mushrooms from your yard is when you see them sprout or else they’ll have enough time to spread spores to grow new mushrooms.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is disposing of mushrooms in their compost bin or pile, and even though this is an acceptable practice for many seasoned gardeners, you should ideally throw them into a plastic bag, tie it tightly and discard it in the trash.
2. Dry them Out
Given that mushrooms thrive in moist environments, killing them by drying them out is another option. However, you have to be cautious when taking this route as this method can kill grass as well.
Start by raking all the damp leaves and debris from your yard. Next, prune the branches on any trees in your lawn including oak trees, coniferous trees, and deciduous trees in your yard to minimize the shade provided to mushrooms.
3. Sprinkle Baking Soda
Who would’ve thought that the baking soda tucked away in your kitchen cabinet kills mushrooms in the yard? Mix two tablespoons of baking powder with a liter of water in a can and stir well until completely dissolved.
Sprinkle or spray the mixture over the mushrooms and surrounding soil to slow mushroom growth and kill the fungi over time. You may have to repeat this process if you want faster results.
4. Apply Hydrated Lime
This is a preventative measure for poisonous mushrooms in your yard and works only after manually removing the visible fungi from your turf. You can pick up a bag of hydrated lime at your local hardware store or garden center and use the package as directed.
5. Use a Fungicide
Your last resort for killing mushrooms in your yard is using a fungicide. Most fungicides kill mushrooms at their roots but you will still have to hand-pull the ones that have already popped up from the ground.
Bonide Fung-Onil is my go-to choice in the fungicide space and comes with two products in the package – a product to kill fungal diseases and neem oil that serves as a broad-spectrum fungicide to protect and control fungal diseases in plants.
- Product 1: Protect your garden from listed fungal diseases with Fung-onil Multi-Purpose Fungicide Concentrate from Bonide!
- Product 1: Chlorothalonil, the active ingredient, is an effective broad-spectrum fungicide that protects and controls fungal diseases in plants.
- Product 1: Prevent common fungal diseases from invading your garden! Fung-onil controls leaf spot, rust, blight, mildew, scab mold and other listed diseases.
Affiliate links and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on: 2023-10-02
Q. Difference Between Edible and Poisonous Mushroom
A. There are two varieties of mushrooms – edible mushrooms and non-edible mushrooms, aka toxic mushrooms. If the mushrooms have red anywhere on their caps, stems, or pores, treat them as poisonous mushrooms.
Additionally, pick a mushroom, cut it in half, vertically, and if the flesh immediately stains blue, treat it as poisonous.
When it comes to any mushrooms including common mushrooms and fairy ring mushrooms in your lawn, avoid the guesswork and seek professional lawn care help to determine if they are indeed poisonous or not.
Q. How Poisonous Are Lawn Mushrooms?
A. Most lawn mushrooms are harmless but this doesn’t mean you cut them up and add them to your pizza or give them to your pets to nibble on. The level of toxicity depends on the type of poisonous species, but can cause gastrointestinal issues, digestive irritation, common sight issues, and high blood pressure.
Q. What Are the Symptoms of Mushrooms Poisoning
A. It’s helpful to know the symptoms of mushroom poisoning, which include:
Q. Are Yard Mushrooms Poisonous to Touch?
A. Yes, there are some yard mushrooms such as the poison fire coral that are poisonous to touch so it’s recommended that you steer off them to prevent any health issues.
Q. Are Yard Mushrooms Poisonous to Dogs?
A. Again a big yes, there are certain species of yard mushrooms that are extremely poisonous to dogs. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson lost his dog Brutus when he ate a toxic mushroom.
Q. Should I Induce Vomiting If My Dog Ate a Mushroom?
A. You can induce vomiting if you think your dog ate a mushroom, but seek professional health care as soon as possible.
Not all mushrooms growing in your lawn are bad or poisonous but why take chances? Even experienced foragers can mistake poisonous mushrooms for edible species such as Death Angel or other deadly species so avoid them and use the above methods to try and get rid of mushrooms.
Hi, Alex Kuritz here. Growing up I remember that my family had one of the best lawns in the neighborhood. Richly green and lush. I did a lot as I grew up in terms of caring and tending for not only my family’s lawn but also my neighbors. I can say I have years of experience, and I am here to share it with you.