How can you tell if a mushroom is poisonous?
– Hi, it’s Doug!Have you ever found amushroom growing in the wild?Well, this guy in the countryof Zambia found what might beone of the biggest mushrooms in the world. And best of all, it’sone that’s not poisonous. He could eat it. Someone named Isaiah has aquestion about mushrooms. Let’s give him a call now. – Hi, Doug. – Hey, Isaiah. – I have a question for you. How do you know if amushroom is poisonous or not?- Ooo, that is a great question. Mushrooms aren’t just somethingyou can find at the grocery store. They grow in the wild too. And if you pay attentionto the world around you,sometimes you can find somereally interesting ones. Like one time, I remember walking outinto the yard behind my house. I was going to mow thegrass like I did every weekwhen suddenly, I noticed somethingthat looked just like this. It was one of the weirdestmushrooms I’ve ever seen. You can see, it’s not asingle mushroom at all. It’s an entire ring of mushrooms. There were dozens of them. This ring of mushrooms had popped upovernight in my back yard. It was so interesting thatI couldn’t bring myself to mow it down. I let the grass stay long that week. I learned it’s what’s called a fairy ring. In ancient times, somepeople believed thatthis ring of mushrooms marked the spotwhere a fairy had beendancing in the night. Today, scientists have a different reasonfor thinking why they grow like this. We know it has to do witha circle-shaped patternof the part of these mushroomsgrowing under the ground. But I love that we stillcall them fairy rings. Or here’s another one of my favorites. I remember in about fifth grade,I was walking along the edgeof a field behind my schoolwhen I saw what looked likethis weird deflated soccer ballsitting there in the grass. When I went to kick it, itgave off like a cloud of smoke. Or so I thought. I found out later that thisdeflated soccer ball thingwas actually a type ofmushroom called a puffball. And by the way, that cloudof smoke was actuallymillions of microscopicparticles called spores. They’re the seeds of the mushrooms. By kicking a puffball,you’re actually helping itto spread its seeds into the wind. Fairy rings and puffballsare just two fun examplesof interesting mushrooms youcan find growing in the wild. But are these mushrooms you could eat?You might’ve heard thatcertain wild mushroomsare poisonous, even deadly. Is it true?And if it is, is thereany way you can tell?What do you think?Before I say anything more,now would be a good timeto pause the video and discuss. Okay, you ready?Well, I wish I could tellyou there was an easy wayto tell whether a mushroomis poisonous or not. Like, if only the poisonous mushroomswere always a certain color. Or if they always had acertain shape or something. Unfortunately, it doesn’twork like that at all. In fact, one of the deadliestmushrooms in North Americalooks like this. By comparison, here’s the kind of mushroomthat we put on pizza. You can hardly tell these apart. The mushroom on the left iscalled a Destroying Angel. A single bite ofDestroying Angel is enoughto kill a human being. But now check this out. Here’s a mushroom that looks really weird. You might think, oh, thisone’s gotta be poisonous. But guess what, thisone is called a Morel. And not only is it not poisonous,lots of people consider it to beone of the best tastingmushrooms in the world. One pound of these mushrooms sells foras much as $40 or $50. But even Morel mushrooms aren’t alwayseasy to tell from poisonous ones. You see this one here?It looks like a Morel, butit’s not quite the same. It’s what’s called a FalseMorel or a brain mushroom. And it will make youreally sick if you eat one. So how can anyone evertell a poisonous mushroomfrom the kinds ofmushrooms that we can eat?The answer: you have tobecome a mushroom expert. Mushroom experts arepeople who get really goodat identifying mushrooms,knowing what each of the differentkinds of mushrooms look like. They learn that each kind of mushroom hasits own special traits,which can help tell itapart from other mushrooms. For example, there are a few mushroomsthat actually turn blue when you cut them. Isn’t that weird?Some of these are poisonousand will make you sick. Others are safe to eat. So knowing if it turns blue isn’t enough. But using this trait helps amushroom expert narrow downthe list of possible kindsof mushrooms it might be. Or here’s another amazing trait. There are some mushrooms thatactually glow in the dark. Here in North America where I live,one of the more common ones is this,called the Jack O’Lantern. Jack O’Lantern mushrooms are poisonous,so the fact that it glows in the darkcan help a mushroomexpert know what it is. Or check out this kind of mushroom. It’s called Chicken of the Woods. These are always bright yellow-orangeand they grow in this unusual clumpof one on top of another. Chicken of the Woods is a good exampleof a wild mushroom that’s not poisonous. And it doesn’t have anypoisonous lookalikes. But some people do getsick if they eat it raw,so mushroom collectors always cook itreally well before eating. As for that funny sounding name,that’s because they sayonce you do cook it,it tastes like chicken. So in summary, there’s no one wayto tell whether a mushroomis poisonous or not. There are thousands ofdifferent kinds of mushrooms. So if you wanna eat a wild mushroom,you need to get the helpof a mushroom expert. But if you’re interested,you can learn to become one. There are mushroom hunting clubs,where you can meet some of these expertsand lots of books about all thedifferent kinds of mushrooms. That’s all for this week’s question. Thanks, Isaiah, for asking it. Now, for the next episode, Ireached into my question jarand picked out threequestions submitted to methat I’m thinking about answering. When this video’s done playing,you’ll get to vote on one. You can choose from:How does a car measurethe gas in its tank?Where do minerals come from?Or, why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore?So submit your vote when the video’s over. I wanna hear from all of you watching. There are mysteries all around us. Stay curious, and see you next week.