Imported trees deliver deadly mushrooms

Nov. 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The roots of decorative trees being imported from East Asia have introduced the most poisonous mushroom to humans in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts say.

The fungal growths known as death cap mushrooms are showing up increasingly in the coastal western province after latching onto the roots of hornbeam trees, which are planted to beautify city streets, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Mushroom expert Paul Kroeger, also the vice-president of the Vancouver Mycological Society, told the newspaper the mushrooms first showed up in the city of Mission in 1997 and he has personally seen numerous other clusters of them around hornbeam trunks in Vancouver.

"It is the most deadly mushroom in the world," he said. "They take down more people every year than any other mushroom."

If eaten, the mushrooms cause stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea, and after several days, can lead to jaundice and complete liver and kidney failure with fatal results, he said.

Statistics show 42 people were poisoned in the United States by the death cap variety of mushroom last year and three died.

He warned people who enjoy eating wild mushrooms to be careful, as the death cap variety strongly resembles the paddy straw mushroom that is commonly eaten in Southeast Asia, the newspaper said.

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