Death cap mushrooms found in Launceston

DEADLY: Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap mushroom, has been discovered at City Park. Picture: Paul Scambler
DEADLY: Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap mushroom, has been discovered at City Park. Picture: Paul Scambler

The world’s deadliest mushrooms have been discovered for the first time growing in Tasmania.

Commonly referred to as “death cap” mushrooms, specimens of Amanita phalloides were found under an oak tree near the children’s playground at City Park in Launceston.

The deadly mushrooms have been sprouting in Victoria and Canberra lately, prompting health warnings, and have also been found in other parts of Australia.

UTAS mycologist Dr Genevieve Gates identified the death cap mushrooms growing at City Park from photographs, and warned people not to pick or eat any wild mushrooms.

“We have a lot of species we don’t know the names of and don’t know if they’re poisonous or not. We strongly recommend that people collect their fungi in the supermarket. People shouldn’t even handle ‘death caps’.”

Picture: Matthias Theiss

Picture: Matthias Theiss

City of Launceston general manager Robert Dobrzynski said the council had advised parks staff to be on the lookout for this species and to catalogue, report and eradicate them.

"We remind people that they shouldn't eat anything they are unsure about from parks and reserves, especially mushrooms,” he said.

"This species is commonly found growing near established oak trees, and people with oak trees on their properties may wish to check them."

A document from the Australian National Botanical Gardens said if people ate the mushrooms, they needed to go to hospital immediately.

“The poisons in one cap are enough to kill a healthy adult and less will be enough to kill a small child.”

The document described young caps as close to hemispherical in shape that flatten as they expand.

“When fully open they are gently curved and smooth. The colour is usually yellowish-green, but may sometimes be olive to light brown.”

The mushrooms also have a white sac-like structure at the base of the stalk and white patches on the cap, Dr Gates said. “However, these  often disappear with weathering.”