Toxic mushrooms thrive in Oak Bay

Parks staff pluck 1,000 death caps from public spaces

Toxic mushrooms thrive on Oak Bay boulevards.

Parks removed about 1,000 of the potentially deadly “death cap” mushrooms since they first popped up in July this year. They’ve grown in Oak Bay since 1998.

“This is the first year we’ve really found them in numbers, like we have this year,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, Manager of Parks Services for Oak Bay. “The numbers are up considerably from what we remember, but that could partly be because we started to go and look for them.”

The mushrooms, first documented in Oak Bay in 1998, which usually grow in urban areas in Victoria and were first introduced on the root systems of non-native trees, tend to spring up around fall following the first set of rains. The fungus showed up early this summer, attributed to regular irrigation.

“If you just leave them alone they’re harmless, but some people may mistake them (for other mushrooms),” Hyde-Lay said. “It’s a cardinal rule with most mushroom pickers that you know what you’re picking.”

The death cap mushroom — or Amanita phalloide — attacks the liver, kidney and other organs and causes nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, dizziness, and liver and kidney failure. In October last year, a three-year-old Victoria boy died after eating the same kind of mushroom. It was the first recorded death from a death cap mushroom in the province.

Experts say residents should avoid the fungus, which looks similar to a puffball mushroom when first pushing through the ground.

“Use caution, know what you’re doing, the municipality knows where they are in the neighbourhood and we’re trying to keep populations down,” Hyde-Lay said.


 

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