Amanita smithiana (www.mushroomexpert.com)
I was called on my cell phone on Monday, Oct. 25, by a woman in Hood River, OR, who had mistaken what she now believes was an Amanita smithiana for a Matsutake mushroom. I have attached both pictures. Please study them. Remember that the intense rain has been altering the typical Amanita characterisitcs, not that smithiana is a typical Amanita in the first place. It is not uncommon to find it where we hunt Matsutakes.
This isn’t the first time I have seen these two mushrooms confused, but this is the worst result so far. The woman had given it to a friend who became very ill that evening, throwing up for a very long time. The friend felt much better and would not go to the hopital despite urging from her gift-giver and the poison control center. Unfortunately she had eaten the whole mushroom with nothing left to identify. The mushroom picker was frantic to get someone who knew mushrooms to talk with her friend about getting medical attention. Somehow she got my number off the internet. With more information from great mushroom websites on toxins and continual supportive coaxing, the victim finally called back to say she was on the way to the hospital. Two days later she is still in the hospital with serious kidney issues that may require dialysis soon.
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is so easy to get over-confident. Please look carefully at each and every mushroom you plan to eat. If something looks a little different and you choose to eat it anyway, at least save a little of the cap for identification purposes should they be necessary. And most of all, don’t trust the mushrooms that someone else gives you unless you are totally knowledgeable of what you are eating. Those of you who are generous and picked too many, don’t feel insulted that your families or friends don’t eat your gifts. You can teach them over time. Just enjoy them yourself and prepare them for another day by freezing or drying. In the excitement of the hunt, you can get “pickin’ happy.” But the responsibility for your life and health or worse, someone who you really care about’s health, can never be taken lightly. The mushrooms will be back! Take your time and learn them well!