The Norman Transcript


August 25, 2013

Fairy rings, toadstools and toxic mushroom questions answered



However, think twice before you go mushroom hunting because some are highly toxic. Most experts agree that it’s safest to buy edible mushrooms in the grocery store. Because of concerns about toxicity in mushrooms, the OSU Extension staff does not advise people on edible mushrooms or mushroom hunting.

In northern California and the Northeast, mushroom poisoning is common. In November, at least four people died at a California senior center after a caregiver mistakenly fed them toxic mushrooms. The most common poison in mushrooms is amatoxin, which is colorless and odorless, so people eating the mushrooms don’t know they’ve been poisoned until they become ill.

For those who have concerns about mushrooms in the yard, Miller said to let your aesthetic preference be your guide.

“Usually when you see the toadstools or the puff balls in your yards, the big lesson to learn is mushrooms are decomposers,” Miller said. “The ones that usually do pop up in our yards are harmless to your lawn.”

Fungus on plant leaves is more concerning.

“Because of the rainy conditions we’ve had, you can get fungal growth on plant leaves that can be detrimental,” she said.

Generally, it’s nothing to worry about this time of year, however. The hot, August weather will usually dry fungal growth on vegetation.

“People should be patient,” Miller said. “There’s no need to use fungicides in most cases, at this point. Most trees will be fine if it is a fungal problem. Usually when we get hot and dry, you’re going to see the fungal problems go away.”

When the mold and damaging fungus on leaves goes away, Norman may also experience fewer mushrooms.

However, that doesn’t mean the fairies have left town. They’ve most likely gone into hiding. A good place to find them again is between the pages of a book available on loan from the Norman Public Library.

The Pioneer Library System also has books for identifying mushrooms, if you’re looking for a weekend nature adventure with the kids.

Joy Hampton



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