Contribution from Andrus Voitk - Corner Brook, Newfoundland

Andrus is a former member of the Mycological Society of Toronto now living in Newfoundland.  He sumitted this article to the society's  monthly Newsletter.  Mushroom poisoning is newsy enough and important enough for us to pay close attention, especially as the new season is just about to start.   Mistakes in identification are easily made even by the most knowledgeable collectors.

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Study these two pictures with care. Apart from the perspective, one photographed from above and the other side on, they seem, at first blush, the same. Both are largish, fleshy, whitish, gilled mushrooms of the same size, a matte cap surface with an inrolled margin. With maturity both develop a wavy cap and reticulate stem. However, the conclusion on the basis of the above similarities that both are the same proved to be an exhaustive mistake for this intrepid mycophagist’s intestinal tract. The picture on the left, scanned, with the author’s kind permission, from Barron’s "Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada", comes from a field guide. The picture on the right comes from the field. The differences do not end there. Here are eight additional differences:

 

Left

Right

Proportion

Cap wider than stem height

Stem taller than cap width
Gills Adnate Notched
Spore Print Pinkish Buff Pink (more distinct , deeper)
Spores Elliptical Angular
Smell Aromatic Farinaceous
Taste (fried) Good Excellent, delicious
After Effects Satisfcation and full stomach Vomiting for 6h, Diarrhoea 36-48h
Name Lepista irina Entoloma lividum

Some of these small, subtle differences make, in their own right, a difference! Associated dizziness and vertigo were not as bad as those with an unknown bolete, reported in Mycelium Oct 1999 and on the net at http://www.pathcom.com/~minaise/mush.html, nor the digestive tract effects so explosive, although the latter were much more protracted. George Barron reported that E. lividum is harmful to the liver.   In an effort to protect my liver from such damage, I have, through dedicated and strict self-discipline, long since learned to keep it under constant barrage by relentless alcohol consumption: the perpetually besieged poor organ is constantly bathed by so many toxins, that new ones can’t penetrate close enough to cause any damage.

Good mycophagy for 2003!

andrus voitk