Yellow Stainer

Poisonous Poisonous
Autumn Autumn
Spring Spring
Summer Summer

Poisonous causing alarming symptoms but not affecting everybody. Not worth the chance!

Mushroom Type
Common Names Yellow Stainer (EN), Cleisiwr Melyn (CY), Pieczarka Karbolowa (PL), Karbolszagú Csiperke (HU)
Scientific Name Agaricus xanthodermus
Season Start Jul
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 8-14
Average Cap width (CM) 7-10
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


7-10 cm. Starting rounded but with a slightly cubed shape, this flattens to a round shallow convex. White with very small scales, the cap can crack and turn grey in dry, sunny conditions. The cap bruises chrome yellow quite quickly.


Crowded and free of the stem. Gills starting off white turning pink and becoming grey/brown when mature. 


8-14 cm long, 1-2 cm diameter. White/off-white with a skirt and slightly bulbous base.


Has a superior, pendulous, double edged white skirt, the one in the image is stained on the top surface by spores.


White bruising chrome yellow when cut especially at the base of the stem.


Hedgerows, grassland, open woodland and beside roads and paths usually in large groups or rings.

Spore Print

Dark brown. Ellipsoid to ovoid.




28 comments for Yellow Stainer

  1. Bob Dutton says:

    Can field and yellow stainer grow in the same ring

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      They can be right beside each other, but not from the same organism.

  2. Eddie says:

    I have what I believe to be yellow strainers growing in my garden.
    How can I get rid of these?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’m not sure how to get rid of them permanently, fungicides can damage the ecosystem of your garden. Place them in a bag and put them in your landfill bin to dispose of them.

  3. Only Me says:

    About 20 years ago I bought some of these from a local Garden Centre in Somerset believing them to be anything but Yellow Stainers. I started cooking them in a Risotto and the smell was very early on utterly disgusting! Very worrying how a garden centre can buy something wrongly identified by their wholesale provider.

  4. Patricia Smith says:

    Can I put yellow stainers in with my garden compost?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Yes as the compost should break any toxins down and these will not be transferred to any plants the compost is used on.

  5. Dale says:

    Hi I found what look to be yellow stainers due to the stems slightly yellow at the base when cut, however, I can’t say they smell of ‘ink’ if anything they smell of aniseed ?

    Is this unusual not to have the smell ?

    I note the younger ones gills are white which I understand is another tell tale.

    I won’t be sampling them but was hoping to experience the smell which is always stated as an indicator.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      If you try cooking any of the toxic Agarics, they turn yellow and the smell becomes very strong. Sometimes it can be hard to pick up the smell when fresh.

  6. Rosa says:

    Mushrooms growing on old remaining tree trunk stump
    They look just like chestnut mushrooms. Are they likely to be edible ?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I could only mention the edibility of mushrooms if I saw them. Chestnut mushrooms do not grow on wood.

  7. Mushroom Pete says:

    I actually once bought some of these from a Garden Centre 20 years ago or more, as edible. At the time I hadn’t yet heard of these mushrooms and didn’t doubt anything as they were bought from somewhere. 10 minutes after them cooking they smelt dreadful and we threw them straight in the bin. I obviously noticed the huge amount of yellow. I bought myself some good books on mushrooms and have never looked back!

  8. Dave bilberry says:

    Had a close call with these recently. Was unsure weather I had horse mushrooms or yellow stainers as I couldn’t smell any ink when fresh, and no dramatic yellow staining, was quite confused. It was quite a young specimen. But when I put them in the pan they turned bright yellow and smelled like burning rubber. Ruined my fairy ring champignons 🙁 now if I’m unsure, I’ll fry some separately and check for colour / smell.

    1. Laura says:

      ive just done this myself and then checked. I’d never heard of yellow stainers. ive cleaned everything thoroughly that i cooked and chopped it on. will that be ok? not sure what happens to the poison once cooked. (they are now in the bin). quite a learning curve ☺️

  9. Theresa Summers says:

    I think that I have tasted a small bite of one of these mushrooms, what should I do

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Don’t worry, at worst they cause vomiting and diarrhoea for a day but a small bite should cause no symptoms.

  10. Susan says:

    Thank you for all your comments – very helpful. A beautiful crop appeared for the first time, in my front garden around the prunus. Even smelt mushroomy. I pinched the top part and it didn’t go yellow quickly, but did, in part, over a few minutes, enough to ring a little alarm bell. I cooked some and yes, the flesh of some pieces did turn a shade yellow. The smell wasn’t strong, I’d say subtly off-putting. Considering all of your comments, I think I have made an identification that they’re probably yellow stainers and will leave them. I confess I’m disappointed though.

  11. Chris says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this thread, and for the amazing “Cook test”. I was just about to poison myself with a lovely yellow stainer soup, but one of the mushrooms I cut went yellow, so I thought I’d better investigate further. When I fried the mushrooms they turned bright yellow and did indeed smell a little like burning rubber. Importantly, the raw mushrooms looked, smelled, and tasted (I spat them out after tasting!) like field mushrooms! Lucky escape…

  12. Emma Cave says:

    I am just MAKING PAN OF SOUP WITH MUSHrooms I have just picked in woods! but thought I’d check if they are OK with the yellow stain that apeared when I wiped them with paper towel! Made some last week and my husband said he felt bit “funny”, I was OK!
    Will throw now!

  13. Mike H says:

    In SW Scotland (September) I picked what I thought was a field / horse mushroom from an agricultural pasture. It was white, convex cap maybe 10 – 15 cms with pink gills. I cooked and ate it with breakfast. A few hours later I suffered very severe stomach cramps. Could it have been the Yellow Stainer? Are there any other fungi that looks the same?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It sounds like you ate a Yellow Stainer as it is the only look-a-like for horse/field mushrooms. They don’t always stain yellow but they should smell of ink, phenol or just unpleasant and chemical like. The colour and smell are usually enhanced by cooking.

  14. robert edge says:

    I picked some from my garden yesterday and fried them today. They smelt fine and they didn`t turn yellow when cooking and looked just like fresh mushrooms
    Unfortunately I ate quite a few of them. Within the hour I was vomiting away. The urge to be sick seems to come and go and so far has lasted for about 3 hours. I checked the ones I haven`t cooked and I can see a yellow tinge when the base is cut through so I`m sure they are Yellow Stainers. Never again. I hope there`s no lasting damage! It`s the supermarket for me from now on.

    1. Attila Fodi says:

      Hi Robert,
      Sorry to read your struggle. Yellow stainer won’t cause any long lasting negative health effect (it will be out of your body rather fast), but it is just not worth trying.
      However, just for staying on the safe side, talk to your GP, mention to him/her that you ate what you think a yellow stainer and it made you vomit, then follow his/her advice.

  15. Top Dog says:

    Honestly I was happily harvesting and eating these as field mushrooms for three months about 18 months ago before a friend of mine had a few from the same source and felt “queezy” almost at once.
    There were yellow marks on some which I had picked and discarded before cooking.
    I had started to feel a little “strange” by the the time my friend contacted me and was investigating my food intake and the only reason I could come up with was that I had been enjoying Yellow Stainers.
    I have wild foraged for over 50 years and never managed to waste good butter on the wrong mushrooms before, and have always been careful, obviously not careful enough this time but luckily it was taking a long time to get through to me! I did not take anything other than going on my own selected detox diet for three or four days, certainly did not panic and so far as I can tell no harm done and still eating as I always what I enjoy. My moto has always been “any doubts, DON’T”. Now it’s back to my old school reports, “must try harder.” So be as careful as you possibly can folks, stay aware, eat and enjoy . John

  16. Hilary says:

    I ate some for lunch today and they made me sick after about an hour. Been feeling unwell for 6 hours since I ate them. They looked like field mushrooms but with yellowing mark at the base of the stems. They didn’t smell or taste awful, just not delicious.

    I won’t be doing that again.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I hope you are ok now. Smell and the yellow staining are the way to avoid toxic Agarics.

  17. Jon says:

    I’ve eaten these, cooked they’d didn’t cause any problems.
    They were a little stronger tasting, they grow next to field mushrooms

    Though I wouldn’t chance it again!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      They don’t cause problems for small amount of people but most will be suffering for a couple of days.

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