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Death cap mushrooms will begin to appear soon

A Death Cap mushroom growing under a oak tree in Bass Garden, Griffith, last year.

A Death Cap mushroom growing under a oak tree in Bass Garden, Griffith, last year. Photo: Marina Neil

ACT public health officials have issued their annual warning about the dangers of eating death cap mushrooms, which have killed four people over the past 14 years, including two last year.

ACT Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said wild mushrooms could easily be confused with the death cap, which is the world’s deadliest mushroom.

“The Death Cap mushrooms grow mainly near established oak trees in autumn as the weather becomes cooler.

Death Cap mushrooms.

Death Cap mushrooms. Photo: Australian Botanical Gardens

“It can be extremely difficult for even experienced collectors to distinguish the small button Death Cap from an edible mushroom,” Dr Kelly said.

“The fully‐grown Death Cap mushroom cap is silky smooth, and its colour varies from white to greenish‐brown. The gills are white – unlike the pink or brown gills of the common field mushroom. The stem is white to pale yellow-green.

“People should not eat any mushroom picked in the wild unless they are experienced and can be absolutely certain that it is not poisonous,” Dr Kelly said.

”Anyone who suspects that they might have eaten Death Cap mushrooms should seek urgent medical help at a hospital emergency department.’’

Two people died after eating the mushrooms in Canberra last year. Chef Liu Jun, 38, and kitchenhand Tsou Hsiang, 52, died from liver failure after eating the death cap mushrooms in a stir-fry Mr Liu prepared after work at the Harmonie German Club in Narrabundah on New Year's Eve.

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