Though there are thousands of different edible wild mushrooms for people to enjoy, 32 of these are known to have caused death and 52 contain harmful toxins. The biggest reason for people to become sick or die from poisonous mushrooms is because of misidentification. It is very important to know what types of mushrooms will cause harm if ingested.
Destroying Angel Mushroom
The destroying angel mushroom, also known as the European destroying angel, is a poisonous mushroom that is most often found around deciduous and coniferous trees in Europe. It is a toadstool mushroom and the cap, gills and stipes are all white in color. It is normally between 10 and 18 cm tall, and the cap is has a diameter of 5 to 10 cm. The biggest reason why people are harmed by this mushroom is because it closely resembles other types of edible mushrooms. The toxins in this mushroom will damage the kidneys and liver, and often cause death to those who consume it.
Death caps are a type of mushroom normally found in Europe around deciduous trees. This species of mushroom contains amanitin, which is one of the deadliest poisons occurring in nature. The poison will attack the internal organs, and due to a delayed reaction from the time of eating the mushroom to actually feeling the symptoms, these mushrooms are often fatal. They are commonly found in Europe during summer and autumn. Death caps are a large, gilled mushroom with the umbrella shaped caps that can be red, yellow, white or brown. Even eating just one cap can kill a human.
Some species of galerina mushrooms can kill humans, while other species of mushrooms belonging to this genus will make humans sick. Galerina mushrooms are often lumped into a group of mushrooms that are called little brown mushrooms. Not all little brown mushrooms found in the wilderness are poisonous, but these small brown mushrooms are very difficult to tell apart and are easily misidentified. The poisonous galerina mushrooms are going to have yellow or brownish colored caps that are convex or flat in shape. They are found all over the world, normally on decaying trees.
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms
Jack O'Lantern mushrooms are dangerous to eat, but rarely cause death. They will make humans very sick, and they are often confused with the edible chanterelle mushroom. They are commonly found during the fall in areas east of the Rocky Mountains. They grow in clusters in the woods and are bright orange in color. The gills of these mushrooms run down the stem, and they are often found on dead trees or stumps. West of the Rocky Mountains, Jack O'Lantern mushrooms are replaced by the "Omphalotus olivascens" mushroom, which looks very similar, but has an shades of olive color mixed in with the orange.
Other Harmful Mushrooms
This is not a complete list of the 52 mushrooms that contain harmful toxins, but rather a guide to some of the most dangerous and frequently misidentified ones. Most other mushrooms do not cause death, but result in varying degrees of discomfort. Some other unpleasant mushroom species include panther mushrooms, fly agaric, greengills, pinkgills, sulfur tuft and brown roll-rim.