How can you tell if a mushroom is poisonous?

– Hi, it’s Doug!Have you ever found a
mushroom growing in the wild?Well, this guy in the country
of Zambia found what might beone of the biggest mushrooms in the world. And best of all, it’s
one that’s not poisonous. He could eat it. Someone named Isaiah has a
question about mushrooms. Let’s give him a call now. – Hi, Doug.
– Hey, Isaiah. – I have a question for you. How do you know if a
mushroom 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 attention
to the world around you,sometimes you can find some
really interesting ones. Like one time, I remember walking outinto the yard behind my house. I was going to mow the
grass like I did every weekwhen suddenly, I noticed somethingthat looked just like this. It was one of the weirdest
mushrooms I’ve ever seen. You can see, it’s not a
single 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, some
people believed thatthis ring of mushrooms marked the spotwhere a fairy had been
dancing in the night. Today, scientists have a different reasonfor thinking why they grow like this. We know it has to do with
a circle-shaped patternof the part of these mushrooms
growing under the ground. But I love that we still
call them fairy rings. Or here’s another one of my favorites. I remember in about fifth grade,I was walking along the edge
of a field behind my schoolwhen I saw what looked like
this weird deflated soccer ballsitting there in the grass. When I went to kick it, it
gave off like a cloud of smoke. Or so I thought. I found out later that this
deflated soccer ball thingwas actually a type of
mushroom called a puffball. And by the way, that cloud
of smoke was actuallymillions of microscopic
particles 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 puffballs
are just two fun examplesof interesting mushrooms you
can find growing in the wild. But are these mushrooms you could eat?You might’ve heard that
certain wild mushroomsare poisonous, even deadly. Is it true?And if it is, is there
any 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 tell
you there was an easy wayto tell whether a mushroom
is poisonous or not. Like, if only the poisonous mushroomswere always a certain color. Or if they always had a
certain shape or something. Unfortunately, it doesn’t
work like that at all. In fact, one of the deadliest
mushrooms 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 is
called a Destroying Angel. A single bite of
Destroying Angel is enoughto kill a human being. But now check this out. Here’s a mushroom that looks really weird. You might think, oh, this
one’s gotta be poisonous. But guess what, this
one is called a Morel. And not only is it not poisonous,lots of people consider it to beone of the best tasting
mushrooms 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, but
it’s not quite the same. It’s what’s called a False
Morel or a brain mushroom. And it will make you
really sick if you eat one. So how can anyone ever
tell a poisonous mushroomfrom the kinds of
mushrooms that we can eat?The answer: you have to
become a mushroom expert. Mushroom experts are
people 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 it
apart 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 poisonous
and will make you sick. Others are safe to eat. So knowing if it turns blue isn’t enough. But using this trait helps a
mushroom expert narrow downthe list of possible kinds
of mushrooms it might be. Or here’s another amazing trait. There are some mushrooms that
actually 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 mushroom
expert 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 any
poisonous lookalikes. But some people do get
sick if they eat it raw,so mushroom collectors always cook itreally well before eating. As for that funny sounding name,that’s because they say
once you do cook it,it tastes like chicken. So in summary, there’s no one wayto tell whether a mushroom
is poisonous or not. There are thousands of
different kinds of mushrooms. So if you wanna eat a wild mushroom,you need to get the help
of 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, I
reached into my question jarand picked out three
questions 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 measure
the 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.

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