DEADLY GALERINA (GALERINA AUTUMNALIS)
Galerina autumnalis grow commonly in Nova Scotia in wooded areas. These mushrooms contain deadly amanitins (cyclopeptides) like those found in the Destroying Angel (Amanita spp.) and can be lethal if consumed.
Galerina autumnalis is light brown, the gills are attached to the stem, has a membranous ring but no volva and a rusty-brown spore print. It fruits in small clusters on the ground in the woods, usually in the fall.
All parts of the mushroom contain toxins. Poison concentration varies within mushrooms and among geographical locations where they are found. In the event that deadly Amanita mushrooms must be handled, we recommend the use of gloves. Cooking or processing toxic mushrooms will not destroy the toxins in most cases.
Amanitan, a cyclic peptide, one of the most lethal organic compounds in the world. Tiny amounts have deadly results in humans, though squirrels and rabbits seem to be able to nibble these fungi without suffering amanitin poisoning (although few people have likely followed these animals for the 6-24 hours that it typically takes for the symptoms to develop).
TYPICAL POISONING SCENARIO
In the early, button stage the deadly amanitas look much like other edible fungi, so accidental poisoning usually occurs when inexperienced mushroom gatherers collect them as food. Sadly, because the effects of cyclic peptides are delayed by their chemistry, the poisoning is often discovered too late to prevent major organ damage, or death, of the victim.
It is not true that mushrooms nibbled by wildlife are safe for human consumption. There are only a very few choice, edible fungi native to Nova Scotia, so it is best to learn which are safe to eat from an expert and avoid eating all others.
When collecting wild mushrooms, always retain an uncooked specimen for later study should you fall ill from eating your harvest. Your only chance in the event of poisoning is prompt, accurate identification of the fungus and its toxin, so that treatment and monitoring can be more effective.
Amanitin poisoning is not a pleasant experience. The onset of symptoms does not normally begin for about 10 hours, long enough for the victim to forget about a mushroom meal. When the toxin finally affects the victim, it causes severe abdominal upset, cramps, violent vomiting and diarrhea, followed by liver and kidney failure. Additionally, there is typically a short remission of symptoms 1-2 days after consumption, which complicates diagnosis and may give a false impression of recovery. Although treatment is possible if the correct diagnosis of amanitin poisoning is made early (1-2 hours after consumption), there is no known antidote; and the damage to liver, kidneys and other systems is severe enough to cause a painful death.
DEADLY GALERINA POISON INFORMATION
Proteins and Amino Acids
Proteins and amino acids are complex chemicals necessary to all living cells; most are highly beneficial, not harmful. Chains of amino acids form proteins; if more than two are joined, they are called peptides, rings of amino acids joined together make cyclopeptides like amanitins, some of which are the most deadly poisons known.