16 POISONOUS Mushrooms found in British Columbia! (2024)

What kinds of poisonous mushrooms are found in British Columbia?

Types of poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia

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 British Columbia. 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)!

16 Poisonous MUSHROOMS in British Columbia:


#1. Lilac Bonnet

  • Mycena pura

Also called Lilac Mycenas or Lilac Bellcaps.

Types of poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia

  • 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 British Columbia. 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. Death Cap

  • Amanita phalloides

Types of poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia

  • The caps are usually shiny, sometimes appearing slimy when wet.
  • They may be olive green, dirty yellow, or tan, and they are convex at first but flatten as they age.
  • Their white stems have a bulbous base surrounded by a sac-like veil, the top of which often remains attached higher up the stem and looks a bit like a skirt.

The Death Cap is often listed as the most deadly toxic mushroom in British Columbia.

Concerning this unassuming killer mushroom, Voltaire famously noted, “This mushroom dish has changed the destiny of Europe” after the death of Charles VI from Deathcap poisoning, which led to the War of Austrian Succession.

Other suspected victims of the Death Cap include Russian tsaritsa Natalia Naryshkina, Roman Emperor Claudius, and Pope Clement VII.

It’s responsible for the majority of mushroom poisoning fatalities worldwide. Thousands of others have died after mistaking this mushroom for an edible species, especially at its small, button stage.

Reportedly, Death Caps have a pleasant flavor but contain several deadly compounds, including amatoxins and phallotoxins. Ingesting these compounds, even in small amounts, usually results in liver failure and may affect other organs like the kidneys.

Death Caps live in symbiotic relationships with oak and beech trees. They sometimes form circles in the forest, often called fairy rings, which has helped lead to some of the mystique surrounding them.


#3. Splitgill Mushroom

  • Schizophyllum commune

Types of poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia

  • 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 British Columbia 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.


#4. Funeral Bell / Deadly Skullcap

  • Galerina marginata

toxic mushrooms

  • The caps are usually pale yellow, brown, or orange, depending on age and weather, and are generally darker colored toward the center.
  • They have tan, fairly crowded gills and pale, thin flesh that darkens with age.

This aptly named toxic mushroom contains the same compounds as the famous Death Cap mushroom. These deadly compounds are known as amatoxins, and consuming them can result in SEVERE liver damage.

It is believed that about ten fatal poisonings in the last century can be attributed to the Funeral Bell.

This mushroom is often mistaken by foragers looking for edible or hallucinogenic mushroom species.

Foragers sometimes refer to these and other similar-looking mushrooms as LBMs or “little brown mushrooms” because they can be difficult to distinguish.

One of the identifying features of this poisonous mushroom in British Columbia is that it grows on decaying wood. Funeral Bells most frequently grow on conifer stumps and logs but are occasionally spotted in deciduous forests or even in open fields where woodchips have been dumped.


#5. Fly Agaric

  • Amanita muscaria

dangerous mushrooms

  • 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 British Columbia.

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.


#6. Sulphur Tuft

  • Hypholoma fasciculare

  • The caps are 2–6 cm (0.8–2.4 in) in diameter.
  • Their coloring is light yellow but darkens to greenish as they mature.
  • This fungus grows in clusters of long-stalked, bell-shaped mushrooms.

Look for Sulphur Tuft Mushrooms in British Columbia on fallen logs, tree stumps, and buried roots in deciduous forests. This fungus is hardy and thrives in many environments. In fact, you can often find Sulphur Tufts even in places where other mushrooms won’t grow.

They look similar to some varieties of edible mushrooms, but you should NOT handle or eat Sulphur Tufts. They are poisonous to humans, whether raw or cooked. This fungus causes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, kidney disease, and, in rare cases, death.


#7. Violet-toothed Polypore

  • Trichaptum biforme

  • The caps are 1-7.5 cm (0.4-3 in) wide.
  • Their shape is an irregular semicircle, similar to a seashell.
  • The coloring of this fungus is shades of brown with violet, purple, or lavender rings near the edges.

If you spot a mushroom in British Columbia that looks like a clamshell, it’s likely a Violet-toothed Polypore! This species can be identified by its shell-like shape and striped purple coloring. It grows in stacked clusters on rotting logs.

Interestingly, Violet-toothed Polypore is known to only grow on decaying aspen and poplar trees. So, if you live near a forest with those species, you’ll likely find this poisonous mushroom!

Violet-toothed Polypore is inedible and causes stomach problems and dehydration. Make sure to keep your pets away from this toxic mushroom, as it’s particularly poisonous for dogs.


#8. False Morel

  • Gyromitra esculenta

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

  • The caps are brain-like, red-brown, wrinkled, and usually wider than tall.
  • They usually have more solid stems with small air pockets than true morels, which have hollow stems.

The False Morel is one of the more controversial poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia.

False Morels contain a compound called Gyromitrin, which the human body metabolizes into Monomethylhydrazine, a major component in rocket fuel.

This compound can damage the liver, central nervous system, and occasionally the kidneys. Victims may experience diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and even death.

Given this horrible effect, it will probably surprise you to learn that part of its Latin name, esculenta, means edible!

In order to eat these funky-looking mushrooms, people use specific cooking techniques. These may include blanching the mushrooms outside or in a well-ventilated area, as Gyromitrin can become airborne during cooking.

Unfortunately, several instances of poisoning from False Morels, including fatalities, have occurred. It’s best to leave these to the experts! DO NOT TRY EATING THIS MUSHROOM.

False Morels usually grow in deciduous and coniferous forests in temperate regions. They often thrive in areas with sandy soil, and in coniferous forests, they are frequently found around pine trees.


#9. Poison Pie

  • Hebeloma crustuliniforme

Poison Pie (Hebeloma crustuliniforme)

  • The caps begin as convex but flatten with age and are off-white to pale, darker towards the center.
  • The stems are off-white with a slightly wider base, and the whole mushrooms have a firm, white inner flesh.

The name Poison Pie should be enough to keep any forager away from this toxic mushroom. But its other common name, Fairy Cakes, is a bit misleading!

Though less deadly than some species like the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), Poison Pie is not a mushroom you want to snack on.

Consuming Poison Pie mushrooms can result in abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Thankfully, Poison Pies are rather unappealing anyway. They have strong radish-like aroma and bitter flavor.

Poison Pies have symbiotic relationships with various tree species. You may find them growing singly or in small groups in deciduous or coniferous forests.


#10. Common Conecap

  • Pholiotina rugosa

Common Conecap (Pholiotina rugosa)

  • The caps are usually smooth and brown and begin as conical but flatten as they age, generally retaining a raised point in the center.
  • The stem is smooth and brown with a prominent, moveable ring.

Common Conecaps may be small and unassuming, but they are a DEADLY toxic mushroom in British Columbia.

These little brown mushrooms are sometimes mistaken for psychedelic mushrooms because they have a similar-looking cap.

Unfortunately for wayward foragers, Common Conecaps contain a toxic compound called alpha-amanitin. When consumed, this deadly toxin can cause liver failure.

Common Conecaps are fairly widespread. They feed on decaying material and usually grow in open areas. It’s common to find these poisonous mushrooms growing in gardens or around landscaped flowerbeds and shrubs.

*You may find guidebooks listing this mushroom as Conocybe filaris, which is now considered a synonym for Pholiotina rugosa.*


#11. Common Earthball

  • Scleroderma citrinum

Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum)

  • They have round, flattened fruiting bodies with hard, scaly, and yellowish to yellow-brown surfaces and white inner rinds that stain pink when sliced.
  • The inner spore mass is white on young mushrooms but turns dark purple to purple-black with age, spreading outward from the center.
  • They have no real stem, but you may find some mycelium threads running into the soil.

These mysterious toxic mushrooms look more like potatoes than fungi at first glance! These odd-looking mushrooms have an unusual method of spore dispersal, too.

Rather than releasing spores from their gills like many mushrooms, these mushrooms eventually form a split in their top as they mature. Each time raindrops, animals, or anything bumps the mushroom, clouds of spores will be released through the slit, eventually leaving just a hollow rind.

You can find Common Earthballs growing in deciduous and coniferous forests and heaths. They do best in soft, sandy, acidic soil.

While not deadly, this mushroom is responsible for many poisonings each year.

It’s commonly confused with Common Puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum), which are edible mushrooms.


#12. 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 British Columbia 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.


#13. Fool’s Funnel

  • Clitocybe rivulosa

Fool’s Funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa)

  • The caps may begin as convex, white, and slightly dusty but become pale gray or brown and flatten or even become depressed in the center as they mature.
  • The flesh is off-white, and the stems are white or off-white, sometimes with a tan blush, and have no skirts.

These highly poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia are sometimes confused with edible champignon mushrooms. This confusion and their funnel-like shape are why they’ve earned the names Fool’s Funnels or False Champignons.

You would have to be a fool to eat these intentionally! Fool’s Funnels contain the compound muscarine, which causes symptoms similar to those caused by exposure to a nerve agent.

Consuming these mushrooms will cause increased salivation, sweating, and tear production within 30 minutes.

In large doses, these symptoms are followed by labored breathing, abdominal pain, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Thankfully, in most cases, the symptoms subside in a couple of hours, but in severe cases, death from respiratory failure can occur.

Fool’s Funnels are quite common, and they often grow in circles, called fairy rings, or in loose groups called troops. These mushrooms grow in open areas, and you may spot them in pastures, yards, fields, and along paths and roadsides.

 


#14. Deadly Parasol

  • Lepiota subincarnata

Also known as the Fatal Dapperling.

Deadly Parasol (Lepiota subincarnata)

  • The caps begin as convex, velvety, and pink-brown, but as they mature, they flatten, though typically retaining a hump in the center.
  • The stems are wide and pale cream to pink near the top with scattered velvety warts or bands of the cap’s color on the lower 3/4 of the stem.

These velvet-topped mushrooms may look cute, but as their name suggests, they can be deadly.

Containing high concentrations of amatoxins, Deadly Parasols are among the most poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia.

When consumed, these amatoxins initially cause diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Oddly, these symptoms usually subside in about one day, only to reoccur within 72 hours. This second round of symptoms is generally joined by the symptoms of liver and kidney failure.

In some cases, victims die within 7 to 10 days of the first symptoms.

Despite being deadly, these mushrooms often give off a fruity fragrance. Thankfully, people report their flavor as unpleasant, which may help limit the amount that a victim would eat.

You may have already seen a Deadly Parsol without realizing it. These mushrooms are widely distributed and grow alone or in small groups in deciduous forests, mixed woodlands, and occasionally lawns.


#15. Panthercap

  • Amanita pantherina

Two Panthercaps (Amanita pantherina)

  • The caps are dark brown to slightly red-brown with white, wart-like spots with white inner flesh.
  • The stems are white with a skirt, a shaggy texture below the skirt, and a bulbous base.

A taste of this toxic mushroom in British Columbia can cause hallucinations, retrograde amnesia, delirium euphoria, dysphoria, and synaesthesia.

Panthercaps contain the toxic compounds muscimol and ibotenic acid. While they do cause hallucinations, their effects are likened more to taking overdoses of Z-drugs like Ambien rather than that of classic psychedelic mushrooms.

While it may not be fatal, consuming Panthercaps would be unwise. The concentration of ibotenic acid can vary significantly from mushroom to mushroom, resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, and severe sweating, leading to dehydration.

While it is still disputed, there are also some claims that the Panthercap is one of the mushrooms that Viking warriors “berserkers” chewed before battle. It is claimed that the rage the warriors displayed was due to the mushroom’s side effects.

Usually, you can find Pantercaps growing in British Columbia in deciduous woodlands, though they occasionally grow in coniferous forests as well.


#16. Deadly Webcap

  • Cortinarius rubellus

dangerous mushrooms

  • Rreddish-brown to orange caps that are convex on young mushrooms but become flatter with a pointed center as they age.
  • An orange or red/brown stem that may have zig-zag markings and is slightly bulbous toward the lower end.
  • They have orange, red, or brown gills that may be pale on young mushrooms and light-colored flesh with orange markings.

The Deadly Webcap is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in British Columbia.

It is one of seven highly toxic mushrooms in the subgenus Orellani. All the mushrooms in this group contain the poisonous compound orellanine, which causes liver and kidney failure.

Deadly Webcaps can be especially dangerous because orellanine poisoning may not cause any symptoms for up to two weeks. After this period, the damage is usually already done.

This mushroom has caused several fatalities when it has been mistaken for edible species like chantarelles. Famously, Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer, and his family were poisoned after confusing the mushroom with another species.

All four victims of this incident, including Evans, required kidney transplants.

We recommend steering clear of these deadly mushrooms. You will usually find them growing in coniferous woodlands. They thrive in moist, acidic soil.


Learn more about things that grow in British Columbia.


Which of these poisonous mushrooms have you seen in British Columbia?

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