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Fool's Webcap

Cortinarius orellanus
Fool's Webcap - Cortinarius orellanus
Did you know that… ?

...literature describes a case of mass poisoning by Fool's webcap in Poland's Poznaň province, which afflicted 102 people, 11 of whom died? older atlases, the Fool's webcap and similar mushrooms were often marked either edible or non-edible, and their poisonous properties were unknown?
...with only minimal attention and at least a basic knowledge of mushrooms, it is possible to mistake them only for other kinds of cortinarias?
...the Cortinariacus genus is quite complex and distinguishing various species within the genus can often be difficult even for experienced mycologists?
...some cortinarias are edible? But in view of the difficulty in distinguishing species, gathering them for food is not recommended.

Fool's Webcap - Cortinarius orellanus - image is under CC-BY-NC
Practical info

Basic information:
Division: - Basidiomycota
Class - Basidiomycetes
Maximum height - 7 cm
Distribution - Europe
Type of poison - alkaloid

Distinguishing marks:
A smaller mushroom, with irregularly wavy cap about 8 cm in diameter and a small, rounded bump in the center. Stem is smooth, shiny and stringy, narrowing towards the bottom. Color ranges from yellow, through orange-brown, to brown. Gills on the underside of the cap are sparse.

Characteristics and poison

The Fool's webcap is deadly poisonous. It grows from July through October in deciduous forests lowlands. Its danger lies in its latency, ranging from two days to three weeks, the longest period of latency in poisonous mushrooms. The active poison is the pyridine alkaloid orellanine. Initially, symptoms do not necessarily appear, but later, troubles urinating and other symptoms of kidney trouble become apparent – first frequent urination, then reduced or even absent urination and pain around the kidneys. So many days later, it does not occur to the person to make the connection between the current difficulties and the previous consumption of mushrooms, which often complicates the diagnosis and treatment. Treatment is possible only in specially equipped hospitals, and consists of replacing kidney function with dialysis. Due to the long latency period, first aid for webcap poisoning is practically non-existent; purging the stomach and intestines is essentially pointless. Poisoning can result in death or at least the necessity of kidney transplants.