DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME….
On New Year’s Day, the family reportedly collected six types of mushrooms at Wilder Ranch State Park north of Santa Cruz. Health officials determined that three of the types were safe, and one was mildly toxic. They believe that of the remaining two, one may have been the highly toxic “death cap” or Amanita phalloides. After becoming ill, the family was taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, then transferred to the San Francisco hospital.
In severe cases of mushroom poisoning, patients require a liver transplant. For now, McCormack said, doctors are trying to save and restore the patients’ livers and give them a chance to recover.
… “Often people are from other countries, and they’re picking mushrooms that look identical to the ones they’re used to eating at home,” he said.
NO MUSHROOM is worthier of fear than the terribly poisonous Death Cap (Amanita phalloides). This single, widespread species of mushroom is solely responsible for the majority of fatal and otherwise serious mushroom poisoning cases, worldwide as well as in North America. …
THERE ARE RULES….
This mushroom is rare in most parts of North America but locally common in such areas as the San Francisco Bay area, where it is typically found from mid-autumn through late winter. Primarily a European species, there is no evidence that the Death Cap is native to North America. Ecologically, it is a beneficial mycorrhizal fungus—it lives on the roots of live trees, providing phosphorus, magnesium, and other nutrients to the tree in exchange for carbohydrates.In California, it occurs under live oak and cork trees…
The cap is 2¼–6″ (6–16 cm) wide, smooth, with greenish to yellowish pigments, usually sticky or slippery but sometimes dry, often adorned with one to several patches of thin white veil tissue. The gills are white, crowded together, and very finely attached to the upper stalk. In young specimens, a white, membranous partial veil tissue extends from the edge of the cap to the upper stalk, covering the gills (later remaining attached to and draping from the upper stalk). The spore print is white. The stalk is white to pallid, up to 6″ (15 cm) long or tall, with a large rounded bulb at the base; the bulb includes a white sac-like volva (see the two photos on this webpage). THE BASE OF THE STALK AND THE TELL-TALE VOLVA ARE OFTEN BURIED IN THE SOIL.
UPDATE: A family from the Aptos area was treated with the experimental drug milk thistle extract. See the story here.