Last week’s surge of rainy, cool weather spurred a virtual explosion of mushrooms in area lawns and landscapes. But don’t eat them. Carter County Health Department Administrator Mendy Spohn warns, “Eating lawn mushrooms is not safe.”


Last week’s surge of rainy, cool weather spurred a virtual explosion of mushrooms in area lawns and landscapes. But don’t eat them. Carter County Health Department Administrator Mendy Spohn warns, “Eating lawn mushrooms is not safe.” 


Telling the difference between poisonous mushrooms and the edible kinds isn’t as easy as some think. And old wives tales like “Poisonous mushrooms have bright, flashy colors and become black when touched by silverware or onions” or “Poisonous mushrooms taste horrible” are unreliable, according to the Oklahoma Poison Control Center.


The cold, hard truth is there are no quick tests or guidelines to identify which mushrooms make tasty gourmet treats or which will send you or your dinner guests to the emergency room with some very nasty symptoms.


“You should stick to eating mushrooms purchased at the grocery store or in a restaurant. These sources are highly regulated and inspected according to national standards for food safety,” Spohn said.


And don’t forget the kids. Children should also be warned those cute, little, umbrella-like plants might be fun to look at, but they’re not something to nibble on.


What you should do if your lawn has suddenly sprouted a bumper crop of mushrooms is knock them over, pick them up and put them in the trash.


Here’s the good news: You can’t be poisoned by just touching a mushroom. Poisoning can only occur if the mushroom is eaten.


Here’s the bad news: There is no antidote for mushroom poisoning. A quick reaction to ingestion of any wild mushroom is vital.


Symptoms in children include nausea and vomiting within six hours after eating a mushroom. Other early symptoms include stomach cramps and watery or bloody diarrhea. Symptoms of the most toxic mushroom poisonings take longer to develop. These poisonings can cause liver and/or kidney problems.


If you think you or someone you know has eaten a poisonous mushroom, don’t wait to see if symptoms begin. Call the Oklahoma Poison Control at (800) 222-1222 right away. And contact your doctor or the emergency room immediately.


Other things you should do:


Collect the remainder of any mushrooms that have been eaten, including the base, which may still be buried in the ground. The same types of mushrooms may not grow together. Therefore, just because a child gets sick early doesn’t mean there wasn’t a more deadly mushroom in the group, as well. If there is more than one variety at the location, collect a sample of each. Place the mushroom in a paper bag, basket or open container. The samples should be kept cool, but do not freeze them or use plastic containers or bags, which cause mushrooms to spoil. Take the mushrooms with you to the emergency room. If the victim has vomited, collect the vomited material to assist in proper identification.