Fort Worth, Texas,
12:13 PM

The Life-Threatening Reasons Your Child Should Never Eat Wild Mushrooms

Expert says they can cause serious poisoning or even death

Have you noticed all the wild mushrooms that popped up in your yard after heavy rains?

Chances are, even if you haven’t, your kids probably have and that could mean trouble for them.

“Kids are notorious for putting things in their mouths – it’s a natural part of their curiosity. But some mushrooms can cause serious poisoning,” said David William Fischer a mycologist and mushroom expert. He is the author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-kitchen Guide and is the creator of

Corwin Warmink, M.D, medical director of Emergency Services, says he has seen kids eat wild mushrooms and taken to the emergency department for treatment.

Symptoms vary, depending on the type of mushroom eaten but may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Hallucinations
  • Neurological symptoms (lethargic, coma, seizures)

Fischer said the symptoms are usually temporary but can be life-threatening.

Late last year, doctors treated 14 people who became severely ill after eating mushrooms from Northern California mountains in the greater San Fransico Bay area. Three people needed liver transplants, including an 18-month-old girl. In late 1996 and early 1997, two men died in that same area from eating wild mushrooms.

“I tell my grandkids to put nothing in their mouths that a responsible adult didn't provide,” Fischer said. “But especially with infants and toddlers – as with dogs – supervision is essential for effective prevention.”

Fischer advices that “all mushrooms should be regarded as toxic, unless properly identified as edible and every edible mushroom should thoroughly cooked before being eaten.”

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Debbie Viess
Not to downplay the dangers of toddlers putting dangerous things in their mouths ... but mostly what these kids pick up is what we call "lawn trash": fairly harmless, tiny fungi. Most of these so called poisonings of kids are really extreme over-reactions by parents and medical staff. Not to downplay the poisonous nature of Chlorophyllum molbdites, pictured in this article. But that one is pretty obvious to a parent, too. Serious poisonings of kids are blessedly rare.

The recent tragic poisoning of a toddler here in CA was quite different: she was fed those mushrooms by her own Mom, who apparently (and I have a hard time believing this) was given those mushrooms by a "stranger." Mom also fed three other members of her family that Death Cap meal. They all survived, altho the child now has a new liver and permanent brain damage as a sequela to her liver surgery. Deeper details of those 14 poisonings (highly unusual numbers, and probably due to an explosion of death caps post drought) can be found on the CDC site:

California has a rather unique situation: Death Caps are an introduced and invasive species of mushroom, originally from Europe, that has spread throughout the state and does not play well with fungal others, either. It appears to be dominating the local mycoflora, to the extent where oaks that formerly produced chanterelles are now only producing hundreds of Death Caps! Unwelcome news on many fronts.

More details on Death Caps can be found here, on my website:

I absolutely agree with David Fisher here: it is the responsibility of the parents to always watch their toddler, and to teach their children to not put everything into their mouths. Mushrooms will always be a part of our world, and parenting never takes a day off.