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Spot a poisonous mushroom

Filed Under: kids, gardening and plants

My boys are relentlessly curious. They get into everything and explore their world "hands-on". Just yesterday my two- and-a-half year old found a wild mushroom out on our walk. He stood there, calling me over and rattling off all his questions. Luckily, both my boys narrate their every move so while they can get into trouble, we always know about it. I got over there quickly enough to caution him against touching it, and still capitalize on that teachable moment.

Finishing our walk, my five year old asked how we can tell which mushrooms are poisonous. So, like any good mom who doesn't know the answer, I lied. Just kidding, I suggested we look it up at home. Here's what we learned.

Signs of a dangerous mushroom:
  • warts or scales on the mushroom cap
  • white gills (underside of the mushroom)
  • thin gills
  • a ring around the upper part of the stem
  • a ring around the lower part of the stem
  • bulb like base
This information about identifying poisonous mushrooms, and other important information about what to do in the case of a poisoning can be found at Montefiore.


  • Monkey

    It's very disappointing that the "identifying features" you quoted came from a medical site. The fact is there is no reliable way to identify a poisonous mushroom from aspects of its appearance. Unless you can, with absolute certainty, identify the particular mushroom, then you should treat it as if it's poisonous.

  • Francesca Clarke

    Thanks for the wikipedia link. It's a great resource, especially for noticing the symptoms of a poisoning.

    You're right, it's best to simply treat any unknown mushroom as if it could be dangerous. The identifying features that I list and link to are only meant to show characteristics that could indicate a poisonous mushroom.

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