The Mushroom Whisperer

Just when you thought we’d never again write about anything not fire related …. along comes a news item about a mushroom poisoning.

Seems that Horse Whisperer author Nicholas Evans and several family members are seriously ill and hospitalized after enjoying a hearty meal of Cortinarius speciosissimus.

Cortinarius speciosissimus? Seriously? What were they thinking?

Mushroom poisoning victims generally fall into one of two categories. People who mistake a poisonous mushroom for an edible species; and people who know nothing about mushrooms and just pick something that looks appetizing. In this case, neither category fits very well.

We can’t think of any choice edible mushroom that could be easily mistaken for C. speciosissimus and very few people who know anything about mushrooms would ever eat anything in the Cortinarius genus. It’s an extremely difficult genus in which to confidently identify species and the deadly poisonous nature of some Cortinarius species (like Cortinarius speciosissimus) is well known (we saw one article that said they mistook them for Chanterelles, but take another look at them – if those look like Chanterelles to you, you’d better stay out of the woods). It’s also hard to believe that someone would pick this drab, unappetizing little mushroom just because it “looked good.”

So what gives? Beats us, but we’d like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that they should never, under any circumstances, pick or eat a wild mushroom – it’s just not worth the risk (especially the Boletus edulis, Cantharellus cibarius, Tricholoma magnivelare, Morchella esculenta and Agaricus augustus growing in our favorite patches).

One Response to The Mushroom Whisperer

  1. pendoodles says:

    Oh my lord, you are serious aren’t you. When I first started reading this entry, I thought perhaps you were just kidding us.

    You are absloutely right…

    If a person doesn’t know a Cortinairus from a Chanterelle, or a fungus from a rock for heavens sakes do not eat it. Stick to those cute litte white button mushrooms at the store please!

    Great entry :)

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