Twenty years ago, residents of British Columbia in northwestern Canada didn't have to worry about the deadliest mushroom in the world. But Amanita phalloides, the "death cap" mushroom, likely hitched a ride on trees being imported into the area to beautify city streets and is now flourishing, resulting in multiple poisonings. Just this week, it may have been responsible for the death of a 3-year-old boy in Victoria, reports the Globe and Mail. He died after going wild mushroom picking with his family and eating one.
The death cap is said to look very similar to the popular paddy straw mushroom, with a white cap and yellowish stem that can be bulbous at its base. While toxicology results have yet to confirm what the boy ate, his family is urging the public to be aware of the risks; ingesting just one cap can be fatal, and the CBC reports that death caps are responsible for nine out of every 10 mushroom poisoning deaths in the world. "It's worthwhile learning how to recognize this particular species because of the consequences if you accidentally eat it," says one forest ecologist. Toxins attack multiple organs, including the kidneys and liver. (A pack of oddly behaving coyotes may have been tripping on mushrooms.)