Officials are almost certain that a mushroom found Monday near the entrance to Baybrook Nature Park in Comox is a poisonous Amanita phalloides, commonly known as a death cap mushroom.
The fungus was spotted by Alanna Balicki, who goes by “Rootz” and was scouting an area for a nature education program for children.
“I noticed this golden glow under some of the fallen leaves and I suspected pretty strongly what it was,” she said.
A picture of it was sent to Provincial Forest Pathologist Harry Kope of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“It’s not a surprise but it is a concern because it’s dangerous,” said Kope. “You don’t want anyone eating it.”
The mushroom has been sent to a lab for final verification.
The death-cap mushroom is already known to be growing in the Victoria area and Lower Mainland and there have been tragic consequences.
A three-year-old boy died after eating one of the mushrooms in Victoria in 2016. Two dogs have also died.
Experts say death-caps are responsible for 90 per cent of mushroom related deaths around the world.
According to Island Health, gastrointestinal distress (nausea/vomiting) begins about 8 to 12 hours after ingestion. After up to 24 hours have passed, symptoms seem to disappear and people can feel fine for up to 72 hours. However, liver and kidney damage symptoms start three to six days after mushrooms are eaten.
The mushrooms have a greenish, yellowish colour on top of the cap and if they are pulled out of the ground it looks like they are in a cup.
They can be disposed of in a baggie right into a household garbage container but health officials suggest using gloves when handling them.
The species of mushroom is not native to Canada. It typically grows in cities under various species of imported trees such as beech, hornbeam, chestnut, English oak, and others but has been recently observed growing with native Garry Oak trees.
The mushroom in Comox was found under a hazelnut tree.
Kope expects more of the suspected death-cap mushrooms to surface in the coming days in the same area.
If you suspect you have consumed a poisonous mushroom: go to your nearest hospital, call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 1-800-567-8911 or call 911. Keep a sample of the mushroom for testing.