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  • Christine Geschwill, CPDT-KA

Deadly Mushrooms

We're in the thick of it now. The height of the rainy season. We've had virtually non-stop rain here in South Florida the past several weeks, and our backyards have become danger zones; besides the danger from the toxic Bufo Toads we already know about. Late last night I noticed one small mushroom growing in the yard, it was late, and it was dark, so I left it until morning. This morning there were three.

The green-spored parasol, or false parasol, mushroom (chlorophyllum molybdites) is extremely poisonous. There are a few local mushrooms that are dangerous, but these seemingly harmless mushrooms pop up in backyards frequently during the height of the wet season, typically in spring & fall. They are the most prevalent species of poisonous mushroom that grows in populated areas. And they are not exclusive to South Florida. They can be found in lawns across America. They look harmless enough, even looking a little like the white button mushrooms we eat when they are young. Do not be fooled. They are anything but harmless. They are toxic to people as well as pets. Although no human has died from eating them, you will have severe gastrointestinal upset; typically requiring medical care. Our pets are no so lucky, as the Rock learned in September 2015 when he lost his French Bulldog, Brutus, to a poisonous mushroom. Click here to read his story. False parasols cause severe liver damage.

If you let your pets roam in your yard unsupervised, you are putting them at grave risk. It only takes a second for a dog to grab a mouthful of mushroom. And if you didn't see them eat it, you'll have no idea what happened until it's too late. Even if you catch them, the damage can be irreparable. If your dog is a grazer, like mine is, they could get one without you realizing it even if you are watching.

If you suspect your dog has ingested a poisonous mushroom get them to the veterinarian ASAP. Do not wait. If possible, bring a sample of the mushroom with you. More on the symptoms of mushroom poisoning here.

Make sure you inspect your yards regularly (as in daily), and remove any mushrooms you find growing by the root. Do not break the stem off. And while you're at it, look for the Bufo Toads. You may not see them, but I can promise you, they are there.

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