The Amanita phalloides or death cap mushrooms are out early this year.
Death cap mushrooms, common in Oak Bay and across Greater Victoria, typically grow under various species of imported trees such as hazelnut, hornbeam, beech, linden, sweet chestnut and oak.
Because the trees are hosts, the mushrooms will come back every year unless the host tree is removed, said Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of parks for Oak Bay. His department removes them from municipal property every year. “They’re incredibly dangerous.”
Ingesting the mushroom can lead to severe illness or death and they are especially dangerous for children. In 2016, a Victoria three-year-old died after ingesting a death cap mushroom.
Death caps are pale and yellowish in colour with a large cap and skirting underneath. They often have a sweet, honey-like smell. They grow in irrigated areas with host trees.
“They’re out a bit earlier than what we experienced last year, but they’ll be out and about until November or so,” Hyde-Lay said. “It’s just something we want people to be aware of.”
To remove death cap mushrooms, wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly after handling them. The mushrooms should be put in the garbage and not in compost or food recycling.
Anyone who may have ingested a poisonous mushroom should go to the nearest hospital or call 911 or the Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911. Try to keep a sample of the mushroom for testing.
For more information visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Poison Control Centre at bccdc.ca.
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