Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America

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Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America

Post by Doka » 02-02-2019 03:43 PM

Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America

“There’s nothing in the taste that tells you what you are eating is about to kill you.”

Between a sidewalk and a cinder-block wall grew seven mushrooms, each half the size of a doorknob. Their silver-green caps were barely coming up, only a few proud of the ground. Most lay slightly underground, bulging up like land mines. Magnolia bushes provided cover. An abandoned syringe lay on the ground nearby, along with a light assortment of suburban litter.

Paul Kroeger, a wizard of a man with a long, copious, well-combed beard, knelt and dug under one of the sickly colored caps. With a short, curved knife, he pried up the mushroom and pulled it out whole. It was a mushroom known as the death cap, Amanita phalloides. If ingested, severe illness can start as soon as six hours later, but tends to take longer, 36 hours or more. Severe liver damage is usually apparent after 72 hours. Fatality can occur after a week or longer. “Long and slow is a frightening aspect of this type of poisoning,” Kroeger said.

He and I were in a quiet neighborhood of East Vancouver, British Columbia. Across the street, behind St. Patrick Elementary School, kids were playing basketball, and their voices echoed between the occasional passing cars. Kroeger likes kids. As we’d hunted mushrooms from the sidewalk earlier that day, he had cooed at every stroller, then stopped the parents to warn them about the death caps in the neighborhood.

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