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Death Cap Overview
The Death Cap Mushroom, Amanita phalloides, is one of the most poisonious mushrooms known. This deadly basidiomycete fungus species resides in the Amanitaceae family. It is found across Europe and is appearing around the world. This fungus is associated with various species of broadleaf tree and the cultivation of non-native trees such as Oak, Chestnut and Pine have been linked to the spread of this species around the world. This species forms large fruiting bodies, termed mushrooms from summer-autumn, the caps are green-white in colour and the stem and gills whitish. However these colours can vary significantly and are not reliable as identification criteria. This mushroom strongly resembles other edible species, for example Caesar's Mushroom and the Straw Mushroom, which are commonly consumed mushrooms, hence there is a large risk of accidental poisoning. This fungus contains a type of toxin collectively known as amatoxins. These can be extremely harmful, even in small doses. Half a mushroom is estimated to be enough to kill an adult human. The toxins do not break down after heating, termed thermostable. Therefore any toxic effects are not reduced by cooking. Amatoxins work by blocking an enzyme that's involved in protein synthesis in animal cells. It can travel through the body within the bloodstream, becoming fatal when it reaches the liver and heart. The main symptoms reported in victims include headaches, dizziness, sickness and diarrhoea, shortness of breath, insomnia, liver and kidney failure, and in many cases, death.