Skip to main content

Death-Cap Mushrooms are Unstoppable and Terrifying

Mushrooms are rightfully hailed as versatile multitaskers, encompassing roles as sustenance, educators, silver screen luminaries, and muse for design innovations. Yet, within this diverse spectrum lies a darker truth—a truth familiar to those acquainted with The Last of Us, whether through gameplay or observation: some mushrooms are lethal.

Hopefully, we have got some time before civilization is destroyed by zombie-inducing cordyceps. But for now, our attention should be directed towards a specific menace—amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom.

Deathcap mashroom

The malevolent amatoxin they harbor is accountable for an astounding 90 percent of global mushroom-related fatalities. It orchestrates grievous harm to the liver, instigating hemorrhagic disorders, cerebral edema, and systemic organ failure for the fortunate few who endure its effects.

Regrettably, the death cap's sinister grasp extends to innocents, like the three-year-old from British Columbia who, on a familial foraging excursion near their residential complex, tragically consumed a death cap, misidentifying it as an edible straw mushroom.

In Melbourne, the consumption of a pot pie tainted with death caps led to the demise of three adults, while a fourth clung to life in critical condition.

As the visual allure of mushrooms is celebrated in the showcased episode of The Atlantic's Life Up Close series, author Craig Childs conveys a sobering reality: humanity is the architect of its own affliction. We facilitated the uncontrolled propagation of death caps far beyond their native confines in Scandinavia and parts of northern Europe, where they thrived on the root tips of deciduous trees, giving rise to neat fairy rings.

With the importation of these trees to enhance urban landscapes worldwide, the death caps—whose delicate spores lack the autonomy for extensive dispersion—managed to hitch a ride. Their presence now graces the Pacific Northwest, cozying up to transplanted sweet chestnuts, beeches, hornbeams, lindens, red oaks, and English oaks, among other hospitable species.

Biochemist Paul Kroeger, co-founder of the Vancouver Mycological Society, elucidated that these invasive death caps are not exclusive to dense woodlands. Instead, they have taken root in urban enclaves, often populating the grassy strips adorning sidewalks. An illustrative instance involves Childs accompanying Krueger during his rounds, where the first of many death caps discovered that day were unearthed before a residence adorned with Halloween embellishments.

Once established, these death caps defy eviction. Transforming from mere visitors to permanent residents, they've even extended their influence to indigenous oaks in California and Western Canada.

Childs underscores that the threat posed by death caps is no longer confined to North America. Their reach now spans the globe wherever exotic trees have been embraced in landscaping and forestry, spanning North and South America, New Zealand, Australia, South and East Africa, and Madagascar.

A poignant account emerges from Canberra, Australia, in 2012, where a seasoned chef and his assistant unwittingly integrated locally harvested death caps into a New Year's Eve feast. Tragically, both succumbed within two days, awaiting liver transplants. Meanwhile, another guest at the event fell ill but survived after a successful transplant.

Foragers must tread with utmost vigilance in this perilous pursuit.

You can learn more about mushrooms from the following books:

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Popular posts from this blog

Find cities with similar climate

This map has been created using The Global environmental stratification. The Global environmental stratification (GEnS), based on statistical clustering of bioclimate data (WorldClim). GEnS, consists of 125 strata, which have been aggregated into 18 global environmental zones (labeled A to R) based on the dendrogram. Interactive map >> Via Related posts: -  Find cities with similar climate 2050 -  How global warming will impact 6000+ cities around the world?

Map of Fox Species Distribution

Foxes are small to medium-sized members of the Canidae family, which also includes wolves, dogs, and other related animals. There are about 37 species of foxes distributed around the world, and they inhabit a wide range of environments, from forests and grasslands to deserts and urban areas. Below is the map of fox species distribution  created by Reddit user isaacSW Here are some of the most well-known fox species and their distribution: Red Fox ( Vulpes vulpes ): The red fox is one of the most widely distributed fox species and is found in North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of North Africa. They are adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. Arctic Fox ( Vulpes lagopus ): The Arctic fox is found in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They have adaptations that help them survive in cold climates, such as a thick coat that changes color with the seasons. Gray Fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus ): The gray fox

Moose population in North America

The moose ( Alces alces ) is the largest member of the deer family, characterized by its massive size, long legs, and distinctive broad, palmate antlers found in males. They have a dark brown or black coat and a humped shoulder. Moose are primarily found in the boreal and mixed deciduous forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are solitary animals, often found near bodies of water, and are herbivores that feed on leaves, bark, twigs, and aquatic vegetation. Despite their size, moose are strong swimmers and can run up to 35 miles per hour. The moose population in North America is shrinking swiftly. This decrease has been correlated to the opening of roadways and landscapes into this animal's north range.   In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada and Alaska, the northern part of New England and New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Isle Royale.    In 2014-2015, the North American moo