Health officials have released help advice on picking mushrooms after a forager mistakenly ate a potentially deadly death cap. The woman, who has asked not to be named, was described by Essex Environmental Health officials as an “experienced picker”.
She was hospitalised for several days from inadvertently eating the mushroom from Hockley Woods. Death caps typical have white gills and a bulbous stalk bottom (see images above and below). They can be mixed up when growing together with edible mushrooms.
A spokesman for Southend Council said: “Foraging for food is an increasingly popular activity but there is always a risk that foragers, no matter how experienced, may pick a poisonous mushroom or berry by mistake. Death cap mushrooms are extremely poisonous and eating just half of one can have fatal consequences.”
Essex is one of the best counties in the country for fungi and mushroom picking during autumn months. There are more species in Epping Forest than anywhere else in the UK. Although by-laws restrict foraging in certain protected places, it’s almost always OK for personal use under rights enshrined in Magna Carta.
Health officials released a list of websites offering advice on foraging, but in the main they stated the obvious: “Don’t pick unless you know what you’re doing.” This is not a bad advice / info sheet from the Woodland Trust.