Mushrooms are often considered the vermin of the vegetable world, likened to snakes, slugs, and worms. Some are regarded as mystical and others as delicacies. The location of tasty morels is passed from generation to generation, closely guarded from strangers. Each autumn and spring, foragers scour the woods for known delicacies, and new ones untried. Some mushroom foragers search for "little brown mushrooms," not for their taste, but to evoke hallucinations.
[...] Fresh mushroom specimens should be transported in a paper bag rather than a plastic container to limit the effects of humidity. Finally, precise identification of even a good specimen can be difficult and should be done by an expert. Mycologists can be contacted through a poison center, university, museum, or commercial mushroom grower. In difficult cases, spores can be obtained from emesis or gastric emptying procedures. Specimens should be refrigerated while awaiting analysis. More specific diagnosis can be made through TLC or RIA techniques. [...]
[...] may remain firmly attached to the mushroom, or only residual spots may remain, depending on the species of mushroom and environmental conditions. The emerging cap takes on a shape consistent with the specific species, ranging from cylindric to convex to funnel shaped. Gills, located under the caps, contain the spore-producing bodies. Some gills are covered with a second membrane or partial veil, later pulling away to form an annulus or ring midway down the stalk of the mushroom. Gills may be attached firmly to the stalk, even running down the stalk, or only to the cap itself (free gills). [...]
[...] Human toxicity has not been reported. Mushrooms may cause allergic reactions. Acute anaphylaxis from mushroom ingestion is rare, despite the presence of haptens capable of inciting an allergic response. More often, symptoms develop from inhalation of spores. Victims may present with anaphylaxis or more often with chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Hypersensitivity reactions are described in workers exposed to cultivation of A. bisporus (the most popular commercially grown mushroom in America) and shiitake (Lentinus edodes), the popular Japanese mushroom. Asthma symptoms developed in nearly 10% of shiitake-exposed workers. [...]
[...] NONTOXIC MUSHROOMS The most common commercially available mushroom in the United States is Agaricus bisporus. It is cultivated in abandoned mine shafts and caves. This small white mushroom with dark gills is often picked before the gills are fully exposed. Although the mushroom is considered nontoxic, hypersensitivity reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported. Researchers have tried to link carcinogenesis to A. bisporus. Although tumors of the bone (osteomas, osteosarcomas) and stomach (papillomas, carcinomas) develop in mice fed large amounts of uncooked mushrooms, no direct link exists between human ingestions and cancer. [...]
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