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Mushroom Safety
woman chopping mushrooms

Mushroom Safety

There are thousands of mushroom varieties. While some are edible and delicious, most can make you very sick, or may even kill you.

Fall and spring are the biggest wild mushroom seasons. The rains and cool temperatures are perfect for their growth. After the first frost, there are few mushrooms to harvest until spring. Then, in spring, mushrooms flourish again.

Symptoms of Mushroom Poisoning

Early symptoms of mushroom poisoning include feeling sick, stomach cramps, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea. Symptoms may show up right after you eat the mushroom, or may appear several hours later. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away. You may need treatment.


If you gather wild mushrooms, examine each mushroom very carefully. Be certain that it is the variety you are familiar with, and that it is safe, because many poisonous mushrooms look similar to edible ones.

If you notice anything unfamiliar in a mushroom, do not eat it because cooking mushrooms will not eliminate the toxins that can be dangerous.

Signs a Mushroom May Be Poisonous

Some very poisonous mushrooms that grow in Colorado look very much like edible mushrooms that grow in Asia or other parts of the world. If you are used to picking wild mushrooms in other countries, please do NOT assume that the same safe varieties grow in this area, even if they look similar.

There are only two ways to know if a wild mushroom is safe:

  • Have it identified by an expert. In Colorado contact the Colorado Mycological (Mushroom) Society.
  • Buy it from a store or in a restaurant that has purchased it from experts. The Boulder County Food Code requires stores and restaurants to “sell only food that is safe for human consumption.”

If you believe you have eaten poisonous mushrooms, but are unsure, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

If you have eaten mushrooms and begin to feel ill, call your doctor or clinic. If the situation is urgent or life-threatening, call 911.

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Food Safety Program

Main: 303-441-1564
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