A Selection of Deadly North American Mushrooms

By Taylor Lockwood

A couple of notes:
By weight, the Galerinas are probably the most toxic. Amanita phalloides causes the most deaths.


Amanita phalloides
The Death Cap
Responsible for 80-90% of mushroom caused deaths worldwide. Looks beautiful but has been mistaken for various edible mushrooms from Agaricus species (field mushrooms, etc.) to edible Lepiotas. Widespread but more common on the west coast.


Amanita ocreata
Western Death Angel
Similar to the Death Cap but lighter in color.


Amanita bisporigera
The Death Angel
Mostly east coast fruitings but widespread and prolific. Has been mistaken for many other mushrooms though it is easily identifiedóif you know what to look for. Also known as The Destroying Angel.


Amanita virosa
Known as The Death Angel, as well.
These are known from Europe and Japan although the names are often applied to North American mushrooms.


Amanita marmorata
Known from Hawaiian Casuarina forests and responsible for pet deaths. Suspected and analyzed as toxic to humans though no statistics for thisóyet.


Galerina marginata
The Deadly Galerinas
These should be hard to mistake for edible mushrooms unless you're looking for "magic mushrooms". There are easy and definitive ways to tell them apart but with deadly consequences if you can't.


Gyromitra esculenta and Gyromitra infula
False Morels
These are mildly toxic on the west coast, more toxic on the east coast and deadly in parts of Europe. They are most likely mistaken by people who are looking for morels. They are also eaten in the northwest and other parts of the world but the toxins are cumulitive.



If you want to learn more about identifying mushrooms and learn about the toxic ones, consider purchasing these two DVDs: