The interest in mushrooms in the United States is -- well -- mushrooming. Thousands of us hunt them, study them, admire them, and, most important, eat them.
Unless we buy them off the grocer's shelf, however, we need to be careful before we eat.
Some mushrooms are hallucinogenic -- several indigenous peoples in southern Mexico and Central America appreciate them for this quality.
Some are toxic. The genus "Amanita," which occurs in Colorado, contains some of the most poisonous mushroom species in the world. One bite of "Amanita phalloides" (the "destroying angel") can be fatal. This mushroom accounts for 50 percent of all deaths from mushroom poisoning in the United States. It contains five deadly poisons!
Mushrooms actually are the fruit part of a fungus. They begin as hairy filaments in the soil or another growing medium.
More than 3,000 species of mushrooms occur in the United States alone.
Photo: Judy Sedbrook
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010