5 POISONOUS Mushrooms found in Arizona! (2024)

What kinds of poisonous mushrooms are found in Arizona?

Types of poisonous mushrooms in Arizona

If you spend time outside, you’ve probably asked this question at least once. Poisonous mushrooms definitely have an infamous reputation.

Below, I have listed common poisonous mushrooms you can expect to find in Arizona. But in NO WAY is this a complete listing of dangerous fungi. There are thousands of mushrooms in North America, so reviewing and writing about every toxic species is nearly impossible.

IMPORTANT: I can’t stress enough that you should NEVER eat a mushroom you find. As you will see below, there are many poisonous types, and some species will kill you. So stay safe, and don’t eat any wild mushrooms unless you are with a mycologist (mushroom expert)!

5 Poisonous MUSHROOMS in Arizona:


#1. Lilac Bonnet

  • Mycena pura

Also called Lilac Mycenas or Lilac Bellcaps.

Types of poisonous mushrooms in Arizona

  • The caps begin as lilac or purple and bell-shaped but flatten and fade to other shades, including whitish, yellowish, pinkish brown, or reddish as they age.
  • The stems are smooth and white or flushed with the cap’s color.

These toxic mushrooms are one of the most beautiful fungi in Arizona. Their unusual lilac coloring makes them a treat for hikers and adventurers to spot as they grow on the ground of coniferous and hardwood forests. Their radish-like odor can also help you to distinguish them.

Despite all their charm, Lilac Bonnets are fun to look at but not to eat. These mushrooms contain several toxic compounds.

Lilac Bonnets contain sesquiterpene, which can cause vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea, and strobilurin, which is often used in agricultural fungicides.

They also contain small amounts of muscarine, which causes symptoms like blurred vision, excessive sweating, increased salivation, and abdominal issues.

Interestingly, Lilac Bonnets weren’t always thought to be toxic. It’s possible to find older mushroom field guides that list Lilac Bonnets as edible.


#2. Splitgill Mushroom

  • Schizophyllum commune

Types of poisonous mushrooms in Arizona

  • The caps are 1–4 cm (0.3–1.6 in) wide.
  • They are pale white or gray and grow in stacked clusters that resemble shelves.
  • As its name suggests, the gills of this mushroom are spaced apart like individual threads.

These toxic mushrooms thrive in Arizona on decaying trees during rainy periods.

These tough, leathery mushrooms were once thought to be nonpoisonous. However, recent research shows they’re often linked to fungal infections of the lungs. Symptoms can include breathing problems, prolonged cough, and other respiratory ailments.


#3. Fly Agaric

  • Amanita muscaria

Types of poisonous mushrooms in Arizona

  • The caps are scarlet or dark orange with white, wart-like spots, which may wash off as mushrooms mature.
  • The stalk is white and brittle with shaggy rings of scales, a bulbous base, a cup-like veil near the base, and a skirt-like veil near the top.

The Fly Agaric is arguably the most iconic poisonous mushroom in Arizona.

This colorful toadstool has an equally colorful history. The name “fly” may come from the mushroom’s historical use as an insecticide in parts of Europe. It contains ibotenic acid, which attracts and kills flies.

However, some people believe the name refers to the hallucinations that result from its consumption. This mushroom once saw widespread use in religious ceremonies.

Through the ages, this mushroom has also been wrapped up in fairytales and folklore. You may remember it as the mushroom Alice is given to eat in Alice in Wonderland or as the mushrooms in the Super Mario Bros games.

Fly Agarics grow in symbiotic associations with trees and can be found in delicious and coniferous forests in temperate and boreal regions.

While it is poisonous, deaths due to consuming Fly Agaric are rare.


#4. Green-spored Parasol

  • Chlorophyllum molybdites

Types of poisonous mushrooms in Arizona

  • The caps are 8-30 cm (3-12 in) in diameter.
  • This mushroom is white or off-white with irregular brown spots and warts.
  • The gills are visible around the edges of the top and very prominent on the underside.

This is the most frequently eaten poisonous mushroom in Arizona!

Green-spored Parasols bear an unfortunate resemblance to several edible fungi, which means they’re often eaten by mistake. In addition, this fungus causes severe stomach symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and colic.

Unfortunately, this mushroom is common on lawns and pastures, putting children and pets at greater risk for poisoning. Please keep them away from these mushrooms!

Green-spored Parasols grow directly from the ground instead of from tree logs or other decaying wood. We recently had a cluster pop up after we had new mulch put down. The spores are often present in soil or mulch and can remain dormant until the next fruiting season.


#5. Saddle-shaped False Morel

  • Gyromitra Infula

Saddle-shaped False Morel (Gyromitra Infula)

  • Their surface may be smooth to somewhat bumpy and irregular, variable in color, and can be tan to yellowish brown, reddish brown, or dark brown.
  • The stems are roundish or slightly compressed and are usually white or pink-tinged with white mycelium near the base.

These toxic mushrooms get their name from their tell-tale, two-lobed saddle shape.

Though there are reports of people eating these mushrooms after boiling, most experts conclude Saddle-shaped False Morels are toxic. They contain contain the compound Gyromitrin.

Interestingly, the human body metabolizes Gyromitrin into Monomethylhydrazine, a significant component in rocket fuel.

Saddle-shaped False Morels usually grow in Arizona in boreal, montane, or coastal forests. They often grow in close associations with several specific tree species, including Western White Pine, Black Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Balsam Poplar, and Paper Birch.

You may spot Saddle-shaped False Morels growing singly or in small groups, often on rotten wood. It’s also commonly found growing on packed ground, like along rural roads or in campgrounds.


Learn more about things that grow in Arizona.


Which of these poisonous mushrooms have you seen in Arizona?

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