Mushroom hunting is all about attention to detail. The smallest misidentification of a mushroom can lead to serious stomach issues or even death. To combat this possibility, Ellie Sloane-Barton of Farmington chooses to always forage with experts.

“I’m honestly not that detail oriented, which is why I really like foraging with other people rather than just me, but I love being out in the woods and I love cooking,” she said.

Greg Marley, a board member at the Maine Mycological Association who has been a consultant with Poison Control Maine, said he has seen a “significant increase” in mushroom poisonings in the state.

“People are, they’re enthusiastic, but their learning doesn’t always keep up with their enthusiasm, so they make mistakes,” he said.

He noted that some people treat foraging and eating wild mushrooms as “a kind of extreme sport,” and emphasized that it has to be “tempered with learning.”

Though not all mushroom mix-ups are deadly, ingesting the wrong one can also lead to serious stomach issues.

Karen Simone, of the Northern New England Poison Center, said the organization sees “about 70” cases of mushroom poisoning a year in Maine.

“Some of those are little children accidentally grabbing some in the yard, some are people trying to get high, a small number of people trying to hurt themselves,” she said. Most cases, she noted, are people foraging for edible mushrooms and those attempting to get high.

Simone said the majority of cases the center deals with are treated without the person getting medical attention, but some end up in the hospital.

Cynthia Stancioff, a self-taught mushroom forager from Chesterville, agreed that identification of edible mushrooms is tricky, and she knows many people, including herself, who have made painful mistakes.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people screw it up,” she said. “You find something that looks, matches vaguely, the description and then you convince yourself it’s what it must be.”

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