Dealing with mushrooms

If I am correct in saying, it is best to show the gills of a mushroom (If applicable), correct me if I’m wrong. Today I was on a walk with my dad and I noticed a mushroom which looked sort of odd & so I took photos.

Here is the observation:

I picked it and turned it upside down, took my photo of the gills and went on my way. But then it made me consider if it was poisonous or not. Since I am a nail biter it is something I need to be careful about. Especially if I am unfamiliar with the mushroom, I always assume the worst just in case.
So here I am, how do you deal with mushrooms that are potentially poisonous?

Wash hands as soon as you can and touch something else after that shroom to get it off your hands. But there’re not so many fungi in Europe that would kill you in small amount, I Googled now about Amanita phalloides and Wiki says lethal dose is about 200g of fresh fungus, most nonedible fungi won’t cause more than indigestion if you eat them, so I guess traces of poisonous fungi aren’t that dangerous.
Yours is not toxic btw.


This is good to know, thank you!

might be helpful to carry some kind of tool on you for handling mushrooms or anything else you dont want to touch


I am fascinated by mushrooms but don’t know much about them beside being able to broadly classify them. I know there’s a lot thrown around about how toxic some of them are, and not sure about how much is true and how much is hearsay, but I always err on the side of caution. You’re 100% right about the underside of a mushroom being an important identification feature, there are usually a few other clues but the most reliable way to tell gilled mushrooms versus boletes is to look if the underside has gills or pores.

I generally avoid touching them, using two different methods;

Depending on where your camera is situated on your phone, it’s not incredibly difficult to get a shot of the underside of a mushroom so long as the cap is a few inches off the ground. Bonus points as photos can look pretty artistic, too. Upping the exposure a bit helps since they’re almost always in shadow.

Otherwise I’ll usually take a stick an poke them over, but only if there appear to be several of the same species in an area. I’m always careful about being destructive for the sake of an observation, especially if it’s something I know very little about.

Good luck and have fun!


(we/us pronouns) We stick our camera phone under the mushroom and use the selfie-cam to photograph the underside so as to avoid touching and not disturb the mushroom


Thanks for being mindful! I wanted to take some mushroom observations this year (not that I made any special effort admittedly), but so many people ‘picked’ mushrooms in the few forested areas that I had very little opportunity to do so. For the few fungus observations I did manage to take, I always tried to take pics of the underside (often using my phone) where possible.


For some fungi, like spicy Lactarius and Russula, taste is useful for ID, so nibbling mushrooms that aren’t necessarily edible is something we fungi enthusiasts do a lot - the key is that you spit it out and do not ingest.


Unless you have some sort of allergy or very sensitive skin, touching mushrooms is fine. The only mushroom that is questionable to touch is Podostroma cornu-damae, which is found in Asia and even that might just be a rumor that touching it is not safe. Mushrooms need to be eaten to be toxic. And as sarahdhon above mentioned, even the taste & spit test is recommended for many mushrooms and is safe to do as long as you spit it out even for toxic ones. Severely immunocompromised people may want to avoid inhaling too many mushroom spores, but most people can touch, lick, or sniff any mushroom without ill effect.

Also, so long as you aren’t just kicking over or pulling up loads of mushrooms, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Mushrooms that are open and able to drop spores will still drop their spores even if they are pulled up or broken. Think of them like an apple left to rot on the ground and the spores are the seeds. I am just mindful to leave them for others and don’t pick or pull them unless I will earnestly try to ID them so others can appreciate them as well.


I normally don’t jump in to “correct” someone, but here I feel I must: A. phalloides (death caps) are deadly poisonous. Less than a single cap is enough to kill. Even a small piece of the mushroom ingested could cause irreparable organ damage. (And, what I see on Wikipedia says that just 30 g is established as lethal.)

EDIT: BTW @marina_gorbunova , I’ve been enjoying your plant photos. Great photography! Please keep going!

Indeed touching mushrooms, regardless of species, is not a problem. Wash hands before eating. Don’t put your fingers in your mouth. — But maybe just photographing them in-situ is ideal. If you’ve got a decent macro perhaps you can get low enough to show the gills.

Nibbling mushrooms is OK only if you have already narrowed down the identification to eliminate the highly toxic species. For example, tasting (and spitting out) an unidentified “bolete” is generally accepted as safe. Worst case you will be left with an unpleasant taste in your mouth. — But please never nibble mushrooms around children. They pick up on taboos. Breaking the raw-wild-mushroom-eating taboo in front of a child could allow them to make a very bad mistake.


If you’re using a camera rather than a phone, carrying a small mirror with you is handy for photographing the undersides of fungi without touching or damaging them.


It’s weird, it also says “В 100 г свежего гриба содержится 8 мг α-аманитина, ~5 мг β-аманитина, 0,5 мг γ-аманитина и 10 мг фаллоидина. Для человека смертельная доза фаллоидина — 20—30 мг.”, 100g of fresh shroom has 10 mg of this toxin, deadly dose for human is 20-30mg of this toxin. But yeah, English Wiki says half cup, but I’d say don’t eat it at all.
Thank you!


There are no fungi so poisonous that getting a little bit of the mushroom stuck under your fingernails and then eating that little bit would be harmful to a human, so frankly I would not worry about that.


Good point about selfie cam, never thought of it! (Deleted post was a reply to wrong person, sorry!)

1 Like

Ah, that quote helps me see one of the issues causing confusion! That talks about the lethal dose of phalloidin, which is not the main toxin we usually worry about (it’s not as toxic and it’s deactivated by cooking). The amanitins, mainly alpha-amanitin, are the main ones that cause problems in the dangerous Amanitas, because they’re active even after cooking and take less of a dose. 0.1 mg/kg is probably a good estimate of the LD50 for alpha-amanitin.

That said, estimating a lethal dose of fresh mushroom flesh is far from an exact number. It can depend on the person eating (how large their body is, how healthy their liver is), the mushroom (taxon, age, and ecogeographic factors all cause variation, while different individuals from the same population can have variable amounts of toxin, and different parts of the same mushroom even vary in their toxin amounts), and the speed / kind of medical interventions eventually taken. The amount of water in mushrooms is also hugely variable and complicates any numbers using fresh weight instead of dried weight. My first published paper was actually studying the amount of toxins in the spores vs stalk vs cap of destroying angels (A. virosa).

From the literature I’ve read, the “less than a single cap can kill” advice is undoubtedly wise but perhaps a better-safe-than-sorry extreme. For kids, sure. But adults may need more tissue to kill their liver. Yilmaz et al. 2015 documented a case where a 67 kg man needed hospitalization to save his life after eating two whole caps, ~45 g of fresh tissue, which they considered a rather low dosage.


i’ve heard of Schizophyllum commune being an opportunistic pathogen in humans, but haven’t heard that it can affect only severely immunocompromised folks…

if you took a friend on their first ever outing to look for mushrooms and saw that friend preparing to take a good sniff of some splitgill mushrooms, would you stop them?

1 Like

Maybe just because there isn’t really any benefit to smelling them. They don’t really have a strong odor that I know of and it isn’t really diagnostic anyways. But really, I don’t like fearmongering about mushrooms to most people without a very clear reasoning why not that specific one.


People who die from eating poisonous mushrooms almost always have gathered mushrooms to cook and eat them, and what happened is that they have accidentally included one or several of the most poisonous mushrooms in the batch they collected, cooked and ate.

1 Like

Quite true. For those interested in mushroom poisonings the North American Mycological Association has a registry of reported poisonings in North America

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.