19 April 2023

Health warning issued as lethal death cap mushrooms spotted in Canberra region

| Claire Fenwicke
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A half-open death cap mushroom (left) beside a Volvariella speciosa (right) growing in Canberra. Photo: Heino Lepp.

ACT Health has issued a warning not to touch, pick or eat any wild mushrooms with confirmed sightings of death caps growing in the Canberra region.

The deadly fungus, which has killed people in the ACT in the past, is found across the Territory.

“They might look like edible species, but they are highly toxic,” the warning stated.

“All parts of a death cap mushroom are poisonous and cooking does not make them safe.”

Death cap mushrooms can grow at any time, and people have been warned not to take the chance with any wild mushrooms as death caps can easily be mistaken for other varieties.

The appearance of death cap mushrooms also varies significantly depending on their maturity and if they’ve been disturbed or damaged.

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ACT Health has advised if you are concerned about any wild mushrooms growing at your home:

  • keep children and pets away from them
  • do not touch them with your bare hands
  • remove them using gloves or tools, and place in a plastic bag
  • dispose of the bag with your household rubbish, ensuring children and animals cannot access it
  • wash your hands and any tools used to remove wild mushrooms
  • do not compost wild mushrooms or put them in your green bin.

If you think you’ve spotted a death cap mushroom in a public area, it can be reported to Access Canberra by calling 13 22 81 or using the Fix My Street tool.

Information on death cap mushrooms, including translated resources, can be found here. ACT Health does not publish photographs of the mushrooms as their appearance can significantly vary depending on their maturity.

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