The Poision diaries: Russula Emetica – The Sickener

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The scientific and the common name of the mushroom makes it crystal clear that these are not lollipops. The sickener is a poisonous mushroom with red and white as dominant colours and has a faint fruity smell. They start to grown in July and their season ends in November. It’s name basically explains that when consumed, it causes vomiting and diarrhea. Tasting this will not cause vomiting but due to its peppery taste it will cause some tongue tingling. They are found in coniferous woodlands throughout Britain, Ireland mainland Europe and also in Northern Africa . The Sickener is also seen  in several areas of North America. Only 5% of the world Russula fungi are known.

Scientists still explain this specie as a toxic toadstool that should not be collected for human consumption even after cooking these mushrooms removes majority of the toxins. This specie is very colourful but notoriously difficult to identify. It is found in one study in England and Southern Scotland that the Red Squirrel is known to eat and store the Sickener.

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How to Identify them:

Cap: The cap is usually found in different shades of red which dissolves in rain or wet weather. Scarlet, the pigment found in the cap cuticle is soluble in water. If you peel the centre of the russula emetica, you can find a pink flesh beneath the cuticle.

Gills: Their gills are white creamy colour. They are  sometimes also found with light green color. The stems are mostly seen in white or light yellow colour.

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Sickener is found under conifers trees, it’s cap becomes soft and  depressed when they reach to their full maturity and the cap cuticle peels easily and quickly. Color is not the only guide to identify them, you can carefully observe it’s different stages of development and study the habitat where they are found. It looks very similar to Russula nobilis which is equally poisonous and should be handled carefully when collected for human consumption.

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A picture of Russula nobilis, which looks very similar to Sickener

Sources:

http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/russula/emetica.php

http://www.kidsdiscover.com/teacherresources/fungi/

Images are from:

http://www.pinterest.com

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