REGION - Autumn conditions have created ideal growing conditions for poisonous mushrooms, Victoria's deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Michael Ackland, has warned.
"People should avoid gathering wild mushrooms in rural Victoria and from their own gardens because of the risk of collecting poisonous varieties which may appear very similar to edible varieties," Dr Ackland said.
He identified the dangers of two of the State's most dangerous varieties, the Death Cap fungus, Amanita phalloides and the Yellow Staining mushroom, Agaricus xanthodermus.
The warning coincides with the arrival of the mushrooming season, spawned when rain encourages growth of the fungi in the still warm earth.
"Poisonings can occur when people gathering wild mushrooms inadvertently include toxic species," Dr Ackland said.
Dr Tom May, Mycologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, said the Death Cap is widespread across Melbourne in both public and private gardens and also occurs in Victorian regional areas.
"The Death Cap can appear throughout the year but it is most common a week or two after good rains in autumn, so we could expect a bumper crop about now," Dr May said.
Dr Ackland said if you enjoy eating mushrooms, the best place to obtain them is from a commercial retail food outlet. All mushrooms sold through commercial outlets in Victoria are safe to consume.
"Anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice"
"The symptoms of poisoning may take 10-16 hours to appear after eating and will most likely be stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea."