According to provincial forest pathologist Harry Kope (British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development), one of the world’s most dangerous mushrooms has been found growing in Comox.
“I have been informed that what appears to be Amanita phalloides (Death cap mushroom) has been found fruiting in Comox, close to Filberg Park,” reads the email, sent by Kope to a local community health network. “This is a first finding of the mushroom outside of greater Vancouver and Victoria.
“Death cap mushrooms are a high health risk in urbananized environments. Death cap mushrooms are extremely poisonous and closely resemble some edible mushroom from Asia. Eating them may lead to liver and kidney damage, or death. People should educate themselves to keep their children and pets away from this species.”
When contacted by The Record, Kope confirmed the discovery as authentic.
“Someone on Facebook posted a picture of the mushroom and said it was in the Comox Valley,” said Kope. “There was some follow-up, and on Oct. 26 someone went out and collected it, and confirmed that it is [a death cap].”
Kope said that while only a single mushroom was discovered, chances are good that there are more in the area.
“Spores are wind-spread… it can be carried on roots of trees, and plants. How fast it can get around is really hard to say. But assuming that one that fruited was allowed to sporulate, those spores can carry into the wind, and they can [spread]. Just because there was that one mushroom found, there may be more of them coming to this area. To say there’s just that one… [that’s] unlikley.”
Vancouver Island has recorded at least one human death due to the ingestion of the death cap mushroom. In October of 2016, a child died after eating one that was picked in downtown Victoria.
A puppy also died from ingesting a death cap mushroom in Victoria, last year.
“I went to the neighbourhood where this puppy had eaten that mushroom and there were lots and lots of different ones,” said Kope. “So why did he go for that one? So that’s part of the concern… maybe there’s something about these that attracts dogs. So don’t let your dogs investigate them, or eat them.”
For up to date information about the death cap mushroom, characteristics, and what to do if ingested, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website: https://bit.ly/2G5YF9U