As mushrooms begin to pop up across lawns this spring, mushrooms poisonings reach their highest levels. There are no easily distinguishable differences between poisonous and nonpoisonous mushrooms, and as Americans become more adventurous in their mushroom collection and consumption, poisonings are likely to increase. Most mushrooms that cause human poisoning cannot be made nontoxic by cooking, canning, freezing or any other means of processing.
Dangerous species are found in habitats ranging from urban lawns to deep woods. Poisonous mushrooms have no antidote and can cause severe illness or death. Only a qualified mushroom expert should identify the mushrooms growing in your community, and you must take appropriate precautions to prevent children and pets from eating or licking them.
Mushroom spores are everywhere all the time. While there is no simple way to get rid of mushrooms in your yard, there are things you can do to minimize fungal growth.
- Dig up mushrooms as soon as they appear, and throw them in the trash. If you pick them before they mature, they will be unable to send out spores. Never put them on a compost pile; it is an ideal environment for their growth. To avoid spreading their spores, don’t kick, stomp or mow mushrooms.
- Mushrooms need water and organic matter to grow, so water grass and plants only when necessary and keep your lawn cut and free of debris. Rake up leaves and grass clippings, and scoop up animal droppings.
- Avoid over-fertilizing your lawn, as fertilizer encourages the growth of mushrooms.
- Use lawn fungicides. While these won’t eliminate the problem, they may help control it if other measures are not successful.
If a pet or child eats a mushroom from your lawn, seek immediate medical care. Also pick as many of the mushrooms as you can, and take them with you to be identified.