death cap mushrooms

Everything you Need to Know about Death Cap Mushrooms

Death Cap Mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) aren’t black and dripping with menace. In fact, they are innocuous looking, sweet little white mushrooms. Death Caps are responsible for 95% of deaths related to the consumption of wild mushrooms and ingesting even a half a cap can kill an adult through liver and kidney failure.

Death Cap Identification

Death Cap mushrooms are a kind of basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Death Caps come from Europe, but have inadvertently spread to countries around the world. They are a white capped mushroom that look similar to several edible species (most notably Caesar’s mushroom and the straw mushroom).

The caps range from 5 -15 cm (2- 5 inches) across and start off as round, flattening with age. Caps can be pale-greenish yellow, olive-green, bronze, or white. One distinguishing feature is a rounded base. It can be hidden by soil or leaves, so dig down around the mushroom when investigating the base.

Death caps taste pleasant and have a gentle, honey-sweet smell that does get stronger over time until it is sickly sweet.

Death Caps contain toxins that lead to kidney and liver failure. In some cases that don’t prove fatal, liver transplants may be required to ensure survival. 

Cooking, freezing or drying death cap mushrooms will not remove the toxins. Even if the mushrooms are boiled and the water is discarded, the toxins remain.

If you’ve eaten a Death Cap Mushroom

Within eight to 12 hours of ingesting a Death Cap Mushroom, you will experience cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to dehydration. This is followed by a period of recovery where you may feel better for up to three days, experiencing symptoms reminiscent of those following the flu.
However, the toxins are still in your body and are causing damage to vital organs during this phase.

Patients will once again experience cramps and diarrhea and other symptoms including
low blood pressure, jaundice, liver failure, kidney failure, bleeding problems, seizures, delirium, convulsions and coma. Around 30% of people who ingest death cap mushrooms die. Death usually occurs 7-10 days after ingestion.

It’s best to seek medical help as early as possible. Medical care may help to reduce damage to vital organs or give you enough time for a liver transplant.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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