Wisconsin is home to a diverse range of mushroom species, many of which are highly sought after by foragers for their culinary value. However, with this diversity comes the risk of encountering poisonous mushrooms that can cause severe health problems or even death if ingested. This comprehensive guide will discuss the dangers of poisonous mushrooms in Wisconsin and will provide information on how to identify and avoid them safely.

Common Poisonous Mushrooms in Wisconsin

Some of the most common poisonous mushrooms found in Wisconsin include:

  • Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric): The iconic red mushroom with white spots, Amanita muscaria contains potent toxins that can cause hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
  • Amanita phalloides (Death Cap): Death Cap is one of the deadliest mushrooms in the world due to its high concentration of amatoxins that can cause liver and kidney failure.
  • Galerina marginata (Deadly Galerina): This small, brown mushroom contains amatoxins similar to those found in Death Cap and can also cause liver and kidney failure if ingested.
  • Inocybe species (Fibrecaps): Inocybe mushrooms contain the toxin muscarine, which can cause excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and blurred vision.

Identifying Poisonous Mushrooms and Their Lookalikes

Misidentification is one of the main reasons people end up consuming toxic mushrooms. To avoid this, it is crucial to learn how to identify poisonous mushrooms and differentiate them from their non-toxic lookalikes. Here are a few tips:

  • Invest in a good mushroom identification book or an app designed for your region.
  • Join a local mycological society or attend workshops to learn from experts in the field.
  • Examine the entire mushroom, including the cap, gills, stem, and base.
  • Take note of the mushroom’s growing conditions, such as its habitat and the types of trees nearby.
  • Observe any changes in color, texture, or smell when handling the mushroom.
  • When in doubt, do not risk consuming the mushroom.

What to Do If You Suspect Mushroom Poisoning

If you or someone you know has ingested a potentially poisonous mushroom, it’s crucial to act quickly. Take the following steps:

  1. Call your local poison control center or emergency medical services immediately.
  2. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a healthcare professional.
  3. Try to save a sample of the ingested mushroom for identification purposes.
  4. Keep the affected person calm and monitor their condition closely.


Foraging for mushrooms can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, but it also comes with its risks. By taking the time to learn about the poisonous mushroom species found in Wisconsin and how to identify them, you can ensure that your foraging adventures remain safe and enjoyable. Always remember that when it comes to consuming wild mushrooms, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you touch poisonous mushrooms without getting sick?

A: In most cases, touching a poisonous mushroom will not cause any harm. However, it’s important to wash your hands after handling mushrooms, especially if you’re unsure about the identification.

Q: Are there any reliable rules for identifying edible mushrooms versus poisonous ones?

A: There are no universal rules for identifying edible mushrooms because the characteristics of mushrooms vary widely. It’s essential to learn specific identification techniques for each species you’re interested in foraging.

Q: How long does it take for symptoms of mushroom poisoning to appear?

A: The onset of symptoms can vary depending on the type of mushroom and the amount ingested. Some symptoms may appear within hours while others might take days to surface. Early treatment is critical, so if you suspect poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.



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