Death cap mushrooms are spreading across California

Death cap mushrooms are spreading across California

These deadly fungi have caused 5 deaths in California since 2010, and even experienced mushroom gatherers can misidentify them.

Jaymi Heimbuch


The death cap mushroom can sometimes be mistaken for other species when it is in the early stages of development. (Photo: Stephen Farhall/Shutterstock)

For mushroom collectors in California, the risk of selecting the wrong species of mushroom and plucking something deadly rather than edible is rising. Death cap mushrooms, an introduced species, are now abundant in the state and are continuing to spread. They can sometimes be mistaken for edible paddy straw mushrooms or other similar-looking species, and they apparently taste delicious — at least according to the people unfortunate enough to ingest them.

Slate writes that the death cap is “now present on every continent except Antarctica. It became such a world traveler because humans spread the mushroom’s spores around like glitter at a kids’ glitter party.” Not that we necessarily did it on purpose. Read more.