The Relentless Migration of Highly Toxic Death-Cap Mushrooms

In a beautiful yet chilling essay for The Atlantic illustrated by Matt Reynolds and animated by Elyse Kelly, naturalist Craig Childs describes the relentless migration of highly toxic death-cap mushrooms from its native Scandinavia and Northern Europe to the Pacific Northwest.

While the mushrooms are historically endemic to Scandinavia and parts of northern Europe, the cultivation of non-native species of trees in North America has led to a “mushroom boom” in some areas of the continent.

He further explains that these deadly mushrooms are not like others. They resemble non-toxic mushrooms, they taste good, and while there are no immediate effects from ingestion, days later the toxins are deadly.

Death-cap mushrooms are not like the others. As little as half an Amanita phalloides contains enough toxin to kill an adult human. …Worse still, death caps can resemble nontoxic mushrooms and are said to be quite tasty. You might not know you’ve been poisoned until days after eating the highly toxic fungi.

via Open Culture