Poisonous Poisonous
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An innocuous looking mushroom that is among the most poisonous in the UK along with the Destroying Angel.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Deathcap (EN), Death Cap (US), Cap Marwol (CY), Muchomor Zielonawy (PL), Gyilkos Galóca (HU)
Scientific Name Amanita phalloides
Season Start Jul
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 10-14
Average Cap width (CM) 8-12
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


8-12 cm. Convex at first then opening and flattening. The cap colour can vary from olive green to dirty yellow or even tan brown. Slimy when wet but still looking shiny when dry.


Crowded and free of the stem. White to cream. 


10-14 cm long, 1-1.5 cm diameter. White with a  bulbous base and surrounded by a thin veil (volva) which is sack-like at ground height, tapering slightly towards the cap. The top of the volva will often be found attached to the stem more than halfway up, looking like a skirt.


Superior. White with obvious striations under the skirt sometimes visible on top.


A very obvious deep volva that can be under the ground surface.




Most mixed woodland, particularly with oak and other deciduous trees.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid to subglobose. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

DO NOT try any part of this mushroom.


Uncommon but can become more frequent some years when the conditions are right.

Other Facts

The symptoms of Deathcap poisoning can start several hours after ingestion with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains and can last for a few days; this is followed by what seems to be a recovery for a few days but ending in death from kidney and liver failure. The main poison, alpha-amanitin, kills liver cells and passes through the kidneys to be recirculated and cause more damage.
There are things that can be done to try and mitigate any harm from ingestion of the Deathcap while on the way to hospital. Excessive hydration with water can be very helpful as soon as possible. In hospital they can now sometimes treat the poisoning using an extract of milkthistle, if not, dialysis followed by new kidneys and possibly liver is the only option.


20 comments for Deathcap

  1. Alan Harris says:

    Is there a litmus type paper that will identify the moisture of poisonous mushrooms?

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      Unfortunately not 🙁

      1. Stephen Gamble says:

        There is a test strip for amatoxins which works on a similar basis as a drug test or a pregnancy test, learning how to identify the deadly amanitas, galerinas, lepiotas and, if you are taking certain entheogenic small brown mushrooms, pholiotina (formerly conocybe) rugosa is a good idea, if in doubt, leave it out, but if you are determined, you could invest in test strips. Milk thistle is an antidote, but it must be taken as soon as you are aware you may have consumed amatoxins, BEFORE liver damage accumulates, if you are feeling symptoms, the damage is done, but you could prevent more damage being done.

  2. Sandesh D'Souza says:

    OMG. This is terrifying and not worth picking/eating/putting any effort in eating any mushrooms. I mean the chemical has no antidote and it sneakily circulates via kidneys to get reabsorbed and keep causing more and more damage? This is the stuff of horrors!

    1. Martin Arcimovic says:

      You can learn to identify mushrooms species by species. By putting in hours and effort, you will get to know the most dangerous poisonous ones and the the most interesting (fleshy, delicious) mushrooms, so foraging will be safe for you.

  3. Brooke Pierozynski says:

    I know it says uncommon, however this year seems to be the year of them for us. My puppy is in hospital right now due to licking one of these. I have now gone dug up approximately 30 in our woods in fear our other dog will also find one. They are quite a beautiful mushroom at all stages of growth but this is utterly terrifying how just licking one has made him so unwell. They have been giving him supportive measures such as hydration and milk thistle extract and all we can do is wait and see.

    1. lukas says:

      any updates on the pup?

      1. Brooke Pierozynski says:

        I can report he is well and thriving! We are now contemplating moving as it’s so hard to know when/if it will be a year for them to come up.

        1. PJ says:

          I’m so glad he’s ok 🙂

          1. Brooke Pierozynski says:

            Thank you !!

            I have been on the lookout for them as season can start in July and have just dug up 27 in a spot different to last year !

    2. Jon says:

      The author is wrong. Deathcaps are very common. I’ve been foraging for over 30 years and see these all over in various woodland locations regularly.

      1. Andrew says:

        Depends where you live, in the north of England they are very rare, and where I live in Manchester you would never see them ever no matter how many woods and forests you look they just don’t grow here, all other Amanitas are abundant but death caps are never to be found

  4. Bella says:

    Are there any cures for the mushroom?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Aggressive re-hydration as soon as possible can help on the way to hospital, where if caught early enough, the poisoning can be treated with extracts of Milk Thistle which seems to help. In a lot of cases the liver and kidneys may have suffered permanent damage and will need replacing with a transplant.

    2. Jon says:

      The problem is, symptoms take days. By the time the symptoms have kicked in, it’s too late.

  5. Martin Arcimovic says:

    The therapy is quite complex as there is more than one toxin and the symptoms appear when damage is already being done. Most survivors need a liver (and sometimes kidney) transplant.

  6. Andy Chaisty says:

    They are not a problem for me as they have never ever been recorded or seen in my part of the U.K. (Manchester) all other Aminata species are abundant but you would never see a death cap here obviously the conditions are not right for them to grow here

  7. Felix says:

    these things are terrifying! my first encounter with wild mushrooms as a kid was one of these. me and my brother aged 9-10 found this and decided to cook it, we only figured out what it was after cooking and both freaked out. we made ourselves sick, threw out the plates/ pans and cleaned the whole kitchen. my love for mushrooms has sprouted since that day and i defiantly know not to touch them now

    1. Mike says:

      What made you decide at the last minute not to eat them?

  8. Kevin says:

    You may miss out on the tasty StGeorge mushroom but if you can’t identify these very obvious Amanita family, never eat a mushroom with white gills.Most of the accidental consumption of Amanitas is by Asian people who pick the very young mushrooms before the cap breaks the veil because they mistake them for a large version of the Chinese straw mushroom they have picked in their home country.Also it is not milk thistle as a solid medication that cures amatoxin poisoning.It has to be in pure serum form called Silibinin which is administered intravenously. Two problems, one the diagnosis may take too long and two the medical centre treating you may not have a ready supply of Silibinin.As for dogs or humans licking Amanita, the Amatoxins can only be released from ingesting and digesting the solid flesh of the fungi.

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