Warning as Melbourne resident makes 'very nasty' find in garden

Although the mushroom is very beautiful, it can also be 'very nasty', an expert has revealed.

A Melbourne resident’s “beautiful” but “nasty” discovery in their garden has stunned locals just days after they were issued a stern warning to avoid such “poisonous” growths.

The Victorian Department of Health urged people on Tuesday to “beware of poisonous mushrooms” seen popping up across the state for the past few weeks, with the wet weather creating prime conditions.

“Stay informed and keep loved ones safe,” the department pleaded on Twitter. “They look like edible mushrooms and there’s no home test to tell safe from poisonous varieties. If you are not a mushroom expert, don’t eat wild mushrooms. Shop-bought only.”

The bright red poisonous mushroom in the Melbourne garden. Right is a stock image of a clothesline in a backyard.
The bright red mushroom spotted by the Melbourne resident (left) is an amanita muscaria, which are poisonous and growing in rapid numbers across Australia's east coast. Source: Reddit/Getty

More than 100 poison control calls this year

Victorians should be on the lookout for Yellow-staining and Death Cap mushrooms — both of which are poisonous, with just one of the later able to kill an adult if consumed — Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton’s health advisory warns. The mushrooms grow in the state in autumn as the weather cools off.

“Cooking, peeling or drying these mushrooms does not remove or inactivate the poison,” the department said, adding that any mushrooms seen growing in home gardens should be removed so pets and children cannot access them.

The Victorian Poisons Information Centre, who people are encouraged to contact immediately if they believe they have consumed a dangerous mushroom, told Yahoo News Australia it has received 114 calls regarding the poisonous fungi so far this year.

In the past 12 months, the VPIC has “recorded 323 cases of actual or suspected exposure to a potentially poisonous mushroom”, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. “113 of these were referred to hospital or already at a hospital at the time of the call to the VPIC.”

Left is the yellowish death cap mushroom, which can kill an adult, and right are the large Yellow-staining mushrooms in a pile of leaves on the ground.
Victorian health authorities are warning residents to avoid all wild mushrooms, but especially the Death Cap (left) and the Yellow-staining (right). Source: Tom May/Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria/Better Health

Social media inundated with mushroom sightings

Aussies have been posting photos of a range of species of mushrooms they’ve stumbled upon growing not only in Victoria, but South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland as well.

A Facebook page dedicated to identifying fungus growing in Australia and New Zealand has been inundated with images since the beginning of the month, some from worried pet owners after their curious dogs took a bite.

The bright red mushroom spotted by the Melbourne resident and posted on Reddit on Wednesday is an amanita muscaria — a toxic variety that are “coming up bigger, better” and “more numerous” because of the weather conditions, mycologist and director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Dr Brett Summerell, told 9News last week.

Photos of mushrooms growing on trees and on the ground in forests.
Aussies have inundated social media with photos of mushrooms growing in the wild. Source: Facebook/Australia & New Zealand Fungus Identification

“They tend to come out in larger numbers as the weather cools so I expect we’ll see a lot more,” he said, adding that he had seen photos of them in Melbourne and “quite a lot” in Canberra.

'Can be pretty nasty'

Amanita muscaria — unmistakable for its red or orange cap with flecks of white — is otherwise known as flu agaric because it was previously used by dairy farmers to kill off flies, according to an article published by the Queensland Mycological Society.

“The fungus is hallucinogenic and dangerous and should not be eaten,” it reads. Dr Summerell said that “despite the fact that you see them in nursery stories as where the fairies live, they can be pretty nasty”.

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