LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - After a lot of spring rain in Arkansas, mushrooms have been popping up in yards across central Arkansas.

But are any of them actually safe to eat?

So, we went to the self-proclaimed "Mushroom Man" of Arkansas to get some answers.

Jay Justice is a top expert when it comes to identifying thousands of different mushrooms and fungi. He is the President of the Arkansas Mycological Society. He said some mushrooms you find in the yard are safe to eat, but you need to do a lot of research. Justice compared eating some from your backyard to placing a risky bet.

“It kinda reminds me of a Dirty Harry or Clint Eastwood movie where he asks the question, ‘Do you feel lucky,'" he said. “It's a gamble, to be honest.”

While some are safe to eat, some can be deadly.

The Amanita Bisporigera, dubbed the “Destroying Angel”, is common in Arkansas during the summer time. It’s pure white and it has no warts on top of the cap. Justice said it’s usually found in the woods near oak trees. He said it could also be in your yard if you have oak trees.

Because the mushroom shows up in yards, pets sometimes eat the mushrooms and can get sick or even die. He said there have been cases of small children also getting sick or killed from eating them.

He stressed the importance of checking your yard and seeing what is out there. Luckily for us, most mushrooms aren't as dangerous as this one.

“Chances are people might find a mushroom that would cause gastrointestinal upsets rather than actually killing them,” said Justice.

Before even considering eating a yard mushroom, he recommended reaching out to experts. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to mushroom and fungi identification. While they can be helpful, Justice said advice on those pages can still be high-risk.

“You really need to know the person you’re getting advice from to see how reputable they are and how well they know their mushrooms,” he said.

Justice said identification is not an easy task because many look similar but have very different effects.

“There are many look-a-likes to some of the good, edible mushrooms,” he said.


Jay Justice, Arkansas Mycological Society

North American Mycological Association


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