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Deadly galerina

Galerina autumnalis galerin.jpg

galerina autumnalis

Yves Lamoureux

Translation: Judy Hernandez

Deadly Galerina is a common mushroom everywhere in southern Quebec. It is a saprophytic species that grows on the decomposing wood of broadleaf trees. Even if you can characterize it as an LBM (little brown mushroom), its abundance and its toxicity merit attention.

Its scientific name, Galerina autumnalis, means "small autumn cap," which suits it moreover very well. You can recognize this Galerina by the orangy-brown tones of its cap, of the gills and of its stalk, and by its rusty-brown spores, its small size, and its growth habit in groups on rotten wood. The stalk reveals a delicate ring or an annulus-like zone. Most mycological works illustrate this species.

As its name indicates, this Galerina is typically autumnal. You find it during cool, wet weather, especially in October. But it can grow even in winter, when the temperature stays above freezing for a while. It has been seen in the Laurentian Mountains on February 14; of course, the weather was particularly mild for that time of the year. It is not rare for it to appear in March, April and May, if the climatic conditions are favourable for its growth.

Deadly Galerina is a toxic mushroom, indeed deadly, because it contains amatoxins, substances that have rendered Amanita virosa and Amanita phalloides so notorious.

It happens sometimes that it is gathered accidentally for the table as it is often found on the same stumps and trunks as the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae and similar species).

Conventional wisdom claims that mushrooms growing on wood are all edible. The Deadly Galerina definitely demonstrates that it is better to be suspicious of stories.

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