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Death cap mushroom in season; do not pick them

A death cap mushroom growing under a oak tree in Griffith.

A death cap mushroom growing under a oak tree in Griffith. Photo: Marina Neil

Canberrans have been advised not to pick wild mushrooms as the ACT enters the prime season for the world's deadliest fungus, the death cap.

In the past 14 years four Canberrans have died after eating the poisonous mushrooms, including two people who were fed them at a New Year's Eve party in January 2012.

The pair had eaten the death cap mushrooms believing they were harmless traditional Chinese fungi.

Health Protection Service director John Woollard said Canberrans simply should not pick mushrooms they found in the wild. ''Most people aren't experts at identifying different types of mushrooms and if you get it wrong, the consequences are just too great,'' he said. ''Get your mushrooms from the supermarkets.''

Death cap mushrooms have a yellowy green cap and white gills and are about a hand-span in size. They are usually found near established oak trees.

Mr Woollard said people who had been poisoned usually showed symptoms six to 24 hours after eating the mushrooms. If you experienced violent stomach pains, vomiting or nausea after eating mushrooms, you should seek urgent medical advice.

''The earlier attention is sought, the less damage is done,'' he said.

Fungi expert Heino Lepp said the recent dry conditions in the Canberra region would not necessarily stop the mushrooms growing.

''A bit of soil moisture is needed, but otherwise it can turn up in quite sheltered areas or quite dry [places],'' he said.

Territory and Municipal Services said that in the past two weeks, rangers had been unable to locate a single death cap mushroom in the territory. But Mr Lepp said the prime season for the deadly mushroom was far from over and could last well into winter. 

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