IS IT BOLLOCKS?
Film Buff investigates the facts behind outlandish movie plots.
Could the mushrooms in The Beguiled really be deadly?
This Month The Beguiled’s Toxic ’shrooms
In The Beguiled, a character is served a dish of poisonous woodland mushrooms and drops dead before pudding. Are toadstools really that deadly?
Geoff Dann, Fungi and Foraging expert, geoFFdann.co.uk Poisonous mushrooms can take anything from 90 minutes to 40 years to kill someone. The fastest-acting toxin found in fungi is muscarine, which can kill within hours if a large dose is consumed on an empty stomach. Meanwhile, the brown roll rim, which can be consumed (cooked) with no symptoms, can cause a belated fatal immune reaction similar to being given a transfusion of an incompatible blood type.
Most poisonous fungi contain amanitins, which cause liver and kidney failure. There is also one species, angel’s wings, that was widely considered edible, but is now known to cause death by massive brain damage when large amounts are consumed by persons with pre-existing kidney problems. You don’t always die from eating poisonous mushrooms, but survival depends on the toxin and the dose. On the whole, most of the worst offenders are woodland species. Amanitas are found within about 30 metres of at least one tree, so it’s realistic that the Beguiled girls could find a deadly mushroom in their woods. But is there a mushroom that can kill in minutes? No.
Edible Mushrooms - A Forager’s Guide To Wild Fungi Of Britain, Ireland And Europe, by Geoff Dann, is available now.