Wild Shrooms Kill Calif. Man

82-year-old had a passion for mushroom foraging
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
Amanita ocreata mushrooms are pictured in this undated photo.   (Wikimedia Commons/Darvin Deshazer)

(Newser) – A California man’s passion for collecting and eating wild mushrooms has cost him his life, the LA Times reports. The 82-year-old ate a generous portion of a deadly variety and died of poisoning a week later. His family had long warned him of the risks, but the man had learned the art from his immigrant Italian parents. Last year, nearly 900 people were sickened in California after eating poison mushrooms, and one person died.

Mushroom foragers can run into trouble when using books as a reference, one mycologist said. "For every edible mushroom, there's a poisonous look-alike. But in the Amanita group," he said, referring to the type eaten by the latest victim, "it is literally playing with death."