Experts are reminding residents in Houston — and it’s a good reminder for everyone across the country — that for most people, the only safe mushrooms are those from the store.
But in Houston specifically, what might seem like common sense is an important reminder as potentially toxic mushrooms are popping up all over the place, according to The Houston Chronicle.
“The only safe place to gather mushrooms is the grocery store unless you get some training,” Brian Shaw, plant pathology and microbiology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, told the Chronicle.
Some of these wild mushrooms are toxic enough to kill a person, which is why training and a discerning eye would be important for those thinking about plucking the fungi and putting it in their evening stew. Case in point: two men in Ireland fell ill after eating harmful wild mushrooms.
A recent dry spell, which accumulates organic matter as a base of nutrients for the fungi, followed by wet weather creates conditions where the mushrooms become more prevalent, horticulturalist T.J. Marks with Houston Parks and Recreation told the newspaper.
Marks said “fairy rings” of mushrooms have started to appear.
“The ones that are in a circle keep moving out as they make new fruiting structures, like a ripple of water,” Marks said.
But as tempting as they might seem, like a free flavor additive growing in your front yard, Marks echoed Shaw in that the average person should really stick to grocery store mushrooms.
“You hear stories of people who supposedly know the difference but they make a mistake,” he said. “You don’t get a second chance. It’s nothing to play with.”
If you are thinking of trying a wild mushroom, here are five rules put out by the Puget Sound Mycological Society:
- Always be 100 percent sure of identification.
- Always cook your mushrooms thoroughly.
- Only eat a small amount when trying a new type of mushroom.
- Only try one type of mushroom at a time — and wait 24 hours for any reactions.
- Only eat mushrooms that are in good condition.