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Fungi - which ones will kill you?

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alanrussell
206191.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:09 am Reply with quote

I enjoy fungi in all its edible forms that are not poisonous to humans. Oyster, field, shitake etc are all good ingredients for a curry or stew. What I often wonder is how the ancient people worked out which fungi were edible and which were poisonous? Did the learned men line up a group of slaves and samples of different fungis? Then get the slaves to taste each one and if they suffered from poisoning after a eating a type of fungi mark that one as "not too good to eat".

 
Archie
206277.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:21 am Reply with quote

I think the majority of fungi are poisonous but not necessarily fatal. So they probably learned that the ones which gave them a stomach ache or the brad pitts were the ones to avoid...

 
markvent
206297.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:21 am Reply with quote

I seem to remember waffling on this subject sometime ago ...

ah yes here it is...

Mark.

 
gerontius grumpus
206373.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 5:00 pm Reply with quote

Archie wrote:
I think the majority of fungi are poisonous but not necessarily fatal. So they probably learned that the ones which gave them a stomach ache or the brad pitts were the ones to avoid...


No, some are poisonous (of which very few are deadly poisonous), a few more than that are edible and the vast majority are inedible but not necessarily poisonous.

 
npower1
206379.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 5:37 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
and the vast majority are inedible but not necessarily poisonous.


GG,
Could you please please explain this statement. If a product, weather naturally produced or as a result of human manipulation, causes that product to be nutritionally beneficial then it it is 'edible'. Hence the question, if it is not poisonous then it must eatable?


Awaiting enlightenment.

 
samivel
206421.  Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:26 pm Reply with quote

Well, bricks aren't poisonous but I wouldn't classify them as edible.

 
mckeonj
206444.  Tue Sep 04, 2007 3:40 am Reply with quote

Try biting into a 'puffball' and all you get is a faceful of dust.

 
gerontius grumpus
207258.  Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:11 pm Reply with quote

Giant puffballs are edible when they are young and white although they are a bit boring to eat.

 
costean
208193.  Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:54 pm Reply with quote

There are surprisingly few really poisonous fungi in this country. According to Messrs Mabey and Fearnley-Whittingstall there are about 3,000 species of 'large-bodied fungi' in Britain; of these, about a hundred are good to eat and about twenty really will not do you any good at all. And of these, those of the genus Amanita are usually lethal - if taken in sufficient quantities; licking your fingers would be unlikely to kill you, eating an ounce or two would.

The most poisonous is the death cap (amanita phalloides); there is no antidote or cure. There are about six hundred species of amanita worldwide. Many are known to be poisonous and of the rest there is little or no data because as wiki puts it ‘understandably this is not a genus that lends itself to safe experimentation.’ Oddly enough the death cap is supposed to taste surprisingly good. Symptoms do not show for about twelve hours, so there is plenty of anecdotal evidence available.

Of the rest they range from the will-make-you-feel-unwell (but with no lasting ill effects) to the edible but not particularly pleasant to eat. Most of these fungi fall into the latter category.

I have quoted this before but there is no harm in a second airing:

Alexandre Dumas wrote:
I confess, that nothing frightens me more than the appearance of mushrooms on the table, especially in a small provincial town.


S:
A Cook on the Wild Side – H. Fearnley-Whittingstall
Food For Free – Richard Mabey
(Incidentally both the above are good books and recommended reading)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita
http://pluto.njcc.com/~ret/amanita/mainaman.html
http://www.mushroomexpert.com/amanita.html

 
Volklet
208824.  Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:01 pm Reply with quote

One of my dogs once ate about a third of a Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and despite a wild wrestling match he swallowed some of it. I was unable to make him sick straight away and we spent the night at the vet's with him on a drip trying to wash the poison out of his bloodstream. The poisons bureau said thay had no official records of a dog having eaten this in the UK, and only one in the US.....

His behaviour through that night certainly reinforces the reputation of this toadstool as a hallucinogen - he growled at nothing, squealed, stared at the wall with an entranced expression and tried to get onto my lap looking for safety from something terrifying only he could see. Thankfully he survived and was well enough to come home the next morning.

This strange experience was even weirder than it seems because he was a Siberian Husky, and the Shamans of the tribe who developed the breed used Amanita muscaria as an aid to their religious ceremonies. Because it is so poisonous they used to feed it to their reindeer and drink their urine.....

The part I don't understand is why the reindeer don't suffer the same distressing symptoms as my boy did - or in fact why they aren't killed by the fungus?

 
gerontius grumpus
208845.  Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:42 pm Reply with quote

Reindeer are said to be immune to several plant toxins, particularly from fruticose lichens (reindeer moss) it is alleged that they concentrate the toxins in the liver, which is why reindeer liver is poisonous.
I'm not sure if this last bit is just urban myth / general ignorance but it's what I've been told.

 
mckeonj
208850.  Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:50 pm Reply with quote

This is why Father Christmas/Santa Claus wears a red and white robe and drives a sled drawn by reindeer, and why gnomes and elves have tendencies towards red caps and sitting on, or under, toadstools.
What was Alice on?

 
dr.bob
208901.  Wed Sep 12, 2007 3:17 am Reply with quote

Best not go into the symbolism of witches' broomsticks while there are children reading :)

 
WizardofAus
221574.  Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:18 am Reply with quote

I do know that all French pharmacists are trained in fungi recognition.

This means that if you're in France, pick all the fungus you can find, then create a huge queue at the chemists while they are sorted into edible and non-edible.

 
Bondee
221620.  Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:00 pm Reply with quote

Volklet wrote:
This strange experience was even weirder than it seems because he was a Siberian Husky, and the Shamans of the tribe who developed the breed used Amanita muscaria as an aid to their religious ceremonies. Because it is so poisonous they used to feed it to their reindeer.


I've been led to believe that this is the origin of the phrase "getting pissed". Can anyone confirm or klaxon that?

 

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