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February 18, 2007 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Can I eat these mushrooms growing in my front yard here in sunny Brisbane, Australia?Flickr photo set
posted by shokod to Food & Drink (17 answers total)
I once had a biologist friend tell me that the only way to be 100% certain about most mushrooms is to do a spore print, so it was just better to be safe and not eat wild mushrooms.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:33 PM on February 18, 2007

Your best bet is always "no". I'm no mushroom expert, but I've heard many times that some of the most poisonous varieties closely resemble edible varieties. So unless you're an expert or you planted them yourself, don't risk it.
posted by chundo at 11:41 PM on February 18, 2007

Take a spore print and consult this Key to Major Groups of Mushrooms before you consider eating wild mushrooms.
posted by chudder at 11:49 PM on February 18, 2007

Among other things, you should find a group of local mycologists and ask them.
posted by Good Brain at 11:59 PM on February 18, 2007

At first blush, they look like members of the Amanita genus, many of which are terribly poisonous.

I say this because they have white gills that don't seem attached to the stalk. If there was a little torn membrane at the base, the so-called volva, which is the remains of the bag they burst out of, that would be diagnostic too. So would white spores.

I am not a fungus expert, and by all means eat them if you have a positive ID from a trustworthy person. But I wouldn't if I were you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:14 AM on February 19, 2007

i_am_joe's_spleen's pick of Amanita looks dead-on and so I will not eat the mushrooms. Alas. I might do a spore print later on for my own curiosity. Thanks for the fast and good help, guys!
posted by shokod at 1:08 AM on February 19, 2007

I agree - Amanitas almost for sure. Mostly deadly, or hallucinogenic, or both. Compare to the pictures of Amanita muscaria var. alba, taken in Australia. Muscaria is more often red-capped with white patches, but this variant is white and somewhat similar, though not identical, to your picture. Muscaria is deadly poisonous though I have experimented with them in the manner of Siberian shamans looking for a trip, only as a teenager.
posted by Rumple at 2:17 AM on February 19, 2007

For sake of posterity, here is a post from the blue with a useful site on identifying and uses for various mushrooms.
posted by SilverTail at 2:51 AM on February 19, 2007

Seeing as the question appears to have been adequately answered, and you guys seem to be knowledgeable in the ways of fungi, I hope shokod won't mind if I piggyback in asking: What sort of checks are in place in commercial mushroom farming facilities to prevent contamination from related-yet-poisonous varieties?
posted by Danelope at 2:58 AM on February 19, 2007

Speaking as someone who dabbled briefly in mycology, I would never, ever mess with wild mushrooms... I would easily nominate them as the worst way to bite the big one. It's unfortunate that it's really difficult to be sure what you have without a -lot- of experience or exhaustive identification procedures, but that's the reality.
posted by rolypolyman at 5:31 AM on February 19, 2007

It doesn't look too much like an Amanita to me (certainly looks nothing like these ones - linked by Rumple). One of the main diagnostic features of Amanita is a bulbous base - I can't see this in your photos. I'd venture to suggest that they may be Macrolepiota. These start off looking quite phallic, before opening out to the classic parasol shape. See here and here.
In any case it would be unwise to eat without getting an expert to diagnose it for you (hard to do from the pics!). If they are parasol mushrooms - they are delicious by the way... :)
posted by jonesor at 7:29 AM on February 19, 2007

It looks like an Amanita Citrina, which is also known as "False Death Cap."

Not recommended.
posted by jimfl at 9:35 AM on February 19, 2007

You're talking Australia, right? I think just about everything there will kill you. The snakes, the spiders, the toads, the crocs, the sharks, the jellyfish, the stone fish.
posted by JackFlash at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2007

This article suggests that not eating the mushrooms should be a general guideline for you... the phrases "'the edibility of most Australian species of fungi is untested" and "many Australian species look superficially like popular edible European species" were the ones that, um, concerned me the most.
posted by nanojath at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2007

Looking at the photos, I'd agree with jonesor- to me, those look much more like some kind of Lepiota than an Amanita. The dark spot in the center of the cap with dark scales around it is kind of a trademark feature of that family, and the stem looks Lepiota-like to me as well. They do look a good bit like Macrolepiota Procera actually- if that ring on the stem can be slid up and down, there's a good possibility it's that or a close relative of it. (Though I should note that one of those close relatives is poisonous.)

That said, I'm going to go with the general consensus here and strongly recommend that you not eat them, even if everything checks out as the parasol mushroom. While I don't necessarily agree with those who say to never eat any wild mushrooms, the rule of thumb for safe mushrooming is to only eat those that can be absolutely, positively, without any doubt, identified as a safe, edible species. And from nanojath's article, it doesn't sound like that's really possible when it comes to Australian mushrooms.
posted by a louis wain cat at 1:26 PM on February 19, 2007

Don't eat mushrooms unless they've been identified by an expert on site. There are a number of species that are poisonous in certain geographical locations, and not poisonous (or less so) in others. Most of the mushroom poisonings here in the Bay Area are immigrants (who are well accustomed to mushroom hunting in their own countries) finding a poisonous version or near-relative locally.

Danelope, the mushroom farm I visited grew their mushrooms on a substrate that was autoclaved in a plastic bag fitted with a valve and a cap. The bags were then inocculated under a hood with mycelium grown in a sterile lab. After that, they were placed in the room with the appropriate (for the species) light, temperature, and humidity until they fruited (the fruiting rooms aren't sterile). Most of the time, even in unsterile environments, if the mycelium has a good head start it will outcompete other fungal types (that is, if they want to eat the same things). However, lots of people grow their own mushrooms in unsterlie environments. They just know what not to pick if anything else pops up.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:29 PM on February 19, 2007

Just in case.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:32 PM on February 21, 2007

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