AMERICANMUSHROOMS.COM SITE INDEX
about • mushroom basics • coolest mushrooms • edible mushrooms • 1,046 mushroom photos! • HOME • lawn & garden mushrooms • mushroom links • medicinal mushrooms
morel mushrooms • mushroom I.D. • mushroom photography • mushroom show • music • mushroom odors • psilocybin mushrooms • schedule • store • tiniest mushrooms • toxic mushrooms
MUSHROOMS of LAWN, GARDEN and HOME
I get more e-mails from folks who want to know about the mushrooms they see popping up on their lawns, among their ornamental shrubs, from the ground where an old tree once stood, and even in their flower pots than I do from actual mushroom enthusiasts asking for help in identifying some woodland species they can't find in their mushroom books. Stinkhorns, puffballs and other especially noticeable mushrooms really get folks' attention!
It's impossible to identify every mushroom, even for the best-studied experts. But we're pretty good with lawn mushrooms and the like, partly because we've had to figure them out due to poisoning cases. Kids and domestic dogs are notorious for experiencing their environments orally: An unsupervised toddler or eight-month-old black Lab whose attention is drawn to a lawn mushroom will often sample it. They simply don't know any better, and their natural instinct is to have a taste!
Of course, this can be very frightening for the parent (or even the pet owner) who witnesses or even suspects her baby of eating a lawn mushroom that just might be dangerously toxic. Many of the calls mushroom taxonomists get from the country's regional and local Poison Control Centers involve mere suspicion of ingestion of an unknown lawn mushroom. I remember, in my early days of seriously studying mushrooms, having nightmares about finding my toddler son Richard near a half-chewed Destroying Angel mushroom! Fortunately, the closest any of my kids ever came to a genuine "mushroom exposure" was the time Richard, walking behind me on the trail, insisted on tasting a big droplet of the very acrid latex of Lactarius piperatus. He hasn't felt tempted to do that a second time!
Fortunately, most of the mushrooms we see on our lawns, in our planters, and around our ornamental shrubs are nonpoisonous. Still, in a case of known or presumed expsoure, it is important to identify the mushrooms, for only then can physicians properly diagnose and, if neccessary, treat the patient.
Moreover, it is a very good idea for parents and pet owners to remove mushrooms on which dogs or young children might be tempted to "graze," and to endeavor to train Junior and Fido to not sample mushrooms (or, for that matter, berries or other plant parts).
I get plenty of E-mails from folks who want to know how to eliminate lawn mushrooms—how to get rid of them for good. The simple answer is, you can't get rid of lawn mushrooms without getting rid of the lawn. Likewise, you can't get rid of mulch mushrooms without getting rid of the mulch, and you can't get rid of potted-plant mushrooms without getting rid of the plant pot. Fungi are a vital part of every plant-based ecosystem, whether natural or manmade. Lawn grass would not be very healthy if there weren't mycorrhizal fungi on its roots.
I am not a physician and cannot offer medical advice, but I am always glad to help as a taxonomist in cases of known or presumed mushroom poisoning or exposure (via ingestion) to mushrooms of unknown edibility status. I do have a few thoughts, as a lay person and as a parent, on the issues involved with medical treatment. First, I am grateful that the old practice of "give Ipecac first, ask questions later" has been largely abandoned except in cases where the mushroom has been competently identified as a life-threatening species. In most genuine mushroom poisoning cases, vomiting and diarrhea will occur naturally as the body tries to rid itself of the offending biomass, and the guaranteed trauma of the Ipecac treatment is of little or no benefit to the patient. Second, I feel strongly that purely symptomatic treatment with no effort made to identify the mushroom should be considered substandard medical practice, as in many cases recognition of the particular mycotoxins involved will indicate a more effective treatment path and, in cases of Amanita poisoning, may very well facilitate prevention of mortality. At the very least, every effort should be made to rule out the often fatal species of the agaric genera Amanita, Lepiota and Galerina.
Below, I present photos of many of the most common lawn mushrooms as well as those frequently encountered elsewhere around homes in North America. If you've found a mushroom in your "domestic space," let the photos guide you toward a name for it. Note that picture-matching should only be used for a very tentative identification; accurate identification of a mushroom requires dilgent study of the specimen(s) and thorough comparison to published descriptions of suspected species.
Some of these mushrooms are safe edible species, but this Webpage is neither designed nor intended to facilitate the enjoyment of edible "wild" mushrooms. Before eating any wild mushroom, always strictly follow the guidelines presented here.
Furthermore, I must emphasize that the toxicity information presented here is limited. Mushrooms that are not generally regarded as poisonous may nontheless cause symptoms in some individuals, particularly if eaten raw.
Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.
AMERICANMUSHROOMS.COM SITE INDEX
All content at americanmushrooms.com is Copyright © 2006, 2007 by David W. Fischer. All rights reserved.