Letter: More about mushrooms

To the editor:

Good story about Amanita aura. We have only one amatoxin containing Amanita that I know of here in Colorado, but it grows only with scrub oak and you don't find mushroomers collecting in that habitat. Too hot and dry, and look out for the rattlesnakes.

We do have lots of Amanita muscaria growing with ponderosa pines and other conifers in the foothills and mountains. Some people eat them to enjoy the visions these mushrooms can produce. One should never partake of these fungi while alone, and there should always be at least one person present who has not eaten any. I have heard of one man who decided to indulge while camping solo. He aspirated vomitus while unconscious and died.

Dogs love these mushrooms and gobble them down before their owners can stop them. A few years ago I had a call from a man who lived in the foothills and had a dog that was hooked on them. The owner had even fenced an area of his property where his dog could be confined during the muscaria season. However, squirrels would collect the mushrooms and store them in a pine tree that overlooked the dog run. Some of the mushrooms inevitably fell to the ground and the dog could feast. The solution we finally came up with was to muzzle the dog when it was outside during the muscaria season.

P.S. It should be noted that the effects of ibotenic acid/muscimol can last for several hours.

— Marilyn Shaw, mycology toxicology consultant

Denver, Colo.


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