What is the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question, “What is the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms?”, and discuss how the mushrooms grow, what edible mushrooms are, composition of edible mushrooms, what poisonous mushrooms are, and types of mushroom poisoning 

What is the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms?

The difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms is that edible mushrooms don’t burn or sting to the tongue while poisonous mushrooms do. Edible mushrooms have a sweet taste, worms may be present in it and there is no scale on the cap. 

Whereas in poisonous mushrooms, worms are not present, they have a bad odour, are bitter in taste and the scales are present on the cap. 

A common belief in Africa is that a poisonous mushroom will also turn silver black during cooking, if the scaly cap of the poisonous mushroom is peeled off it is safe to consume, but these statements do not provide a full assurance of their safety.

Edible mushrooms stretch from the stem as it grows and develops a tissue ring around the stem called the annulus. Poisonous mushrooms don’t have the tissue ring nor the stem. Edible mushrooms may have a fruity apricot like smell whereas the poisonous species may have an almond scent or a bad distorted scent. 

Edible mushrooms when cut into half don’t stain grain or purple while poisonous mushrooms when cut turns either purple or green. In edible mushrooms, the gills on the cap are often pink in colour and change to brown or black as the mushroom matures. 

Conversely, the gills present in poisonous mushrooms are white in colour and this white colour remains unchanged throughout their life cycle.

How do mushrooms grow?

There are around 22000 named species of mushrooms, most common are grown from Agaricus campestris. Some are used for human consumption while some mushrooms are deadly poisonous. 

The growth of mushrooms starts with the production of hyphae from a germinated spore. These hyphae or not spectate at first like zygomycetes. In the dense layer on the underside of the cap of mushrooms where the surface folds like an accordion is the basidia. 

There’s a calculated estimation that a mushroom which has a cap of 8 cm can produce up to 40 million spores per hour. 

What are edible mushrooms?

Edible mushrooms are fungi which can bear the structures of fruit which are big enough to see with a naked eye. They can either be hypogeous or epigeous and may be picked up by hand, They have a desirable aroma and flavour.

Edible mushrooms have a high nutritional value and are consumed for health purposes. Medicinal mushrooms are consumed and prescribed by those who practise folk medicine for their nutraceutical properties. 

Some edible mushrooms are consumed for religious purposes such as the psilocybin mushrooms which can adversely cause severe nausea and disorientation and might not be considered or categorised as edible.

What is the composition of Edible Mushrooms?

Mushrooms contain 50-5% carbohydrates, 4.0% fat, and B complex vitamins such as B1, B2, B5, B6,  and folic acid, cobalamin, biotin and contain almost 70% moisture. 

What are poisonous mushrooms?

Poisonous mushrooms are the dangerous and sometimes fatal and deadly species of mushrooms. Poisonous mushrooms contain various levels of toxins varying in their chemical composition, and therefore the effects and levels of poisoning may differ considerably.

What are the types of mushroom poisoning?

Amanita type poisoning – the most dangerous type and the toxins accumulate in the liver damaging the organ, Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, nausea, violent vomiting, diarrhoea, cold sweats, excessive thirst, with severe dehydration, cramps and anuria.

Muscarine type poisoning- symptoms include contraction of pupils, blurred vision, saliation, reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and asthmatic like breathing. 

These symptoms appear immediately after eating these mushrooms along with the most characteristic symptoms such as nervous excitement, breathing difficulty, shivering, and tendency of collapsing.

Psychotropic or hallucinogenic poisoning – distort the central nervous system and distortions in vision and tactile sensations vomiting, and hallucinations which may continue for various lengths of time

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question, “What is the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms?”, and discussed how mushrooms grow, what edible mushrooms are, composition of edible mushrooms, what poisonous mushrooms are, and types of mushroom poisoning.

References

https://www.scitechnol.com/peer-review/edible-and-nonedible-wild-mushrooms-nutrition-toxicity-and-strategies-for-recognition-dY0s.php?article_id=7395

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.