Every fall I have bunches of round, white mushrooms growing in my front yard on the north side of my house. Are these the same "button mushrooms" that we can buy in the supermarket, and are they edible?
— Patrick B., Eagle Point
Unless you have a death wish, Patrick, we suggest you stay clear of those mushrooms.
We discussed your desire to eat the mushrooms in your front yard with Phil VanBuskirk, director of the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center. He said they're most likely not edible.
"If you are not absolutely sure, do not eat," he recommends. "They can be deadly."
Many mushrooms are toxic to humans, causing the kidneys to shut down.
Almost every year, there are reports of someone in the country who ate mushrooms and fell ill or died.
VanBuskirk said the "button mushrooms" that are purchased in the store prefer to grow in total darkness, which we suspect is a very different environment from your front yard.
Edible wild mushrooms that grow in the area are morels and chanterelles, but we'd suggest you get an expert to go with you if you decide to forage.
VanBuskirk said many types of mushrooms and fungi can grow in lawns and yards. Some are beneficial for plants they attach to, helping them soak up moisture. "There's a lot of fungus material in lawns," he said.
Other types of parasitic fungi can kill plants.
So, Patrick, you've been warned. Regardless of how harmless those mushrooms in your yard look, don't take a bite out of them. It might be the last bite of your life.
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