The small brown galerina mushroom is, as its common names like the funeral bell, deadly galerina, or autumn skullcap suggest, one of the most poisonous mushrooms out there.
It shares its poison, amanitin, with the infamous death cap mushroom. While 12 mushrooms are the deadly dose, even just a single galerina can cause permanent damage to its victim.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A GALERINA MUSHROOM
Galerinas are small, with caps 1-2.5 inches wide. Color ranges from dark brown to brown-yellow. Yellow gills attach to the stalk and become brown with age. Their white ring becomes brown with age. From it down, the stalk is fibrillose.
They always grow on wood from dense white mycelium, which is often visible at the base. The spore print is brown.
Typical identification signs of galerinas: 1. Brown hat is often darker in the center. 2. Its rim is striated. 3. Gills attach to the stalk. 4. The ring is in the upper part of the stalk. 5. The stalk is fibrillose below the ring. 6. There is dense white mycelium at the base of the mushroom.
WHERE DO THEY GROW
Galerina mushrooms grow primarily in fall on decaying coniferous tree wood, although they may be found on weakened or deciduous trees as well. They may seem to grow from the soil if there is a piece of wood that hidden underground.
They occur in the entire Northern hemisphere and were found in Australia as well.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A HUMAN EATS A GALERINA?
Galerina poison amanitin will start attacking the liver shortly after consumption. The first symptoms appear 8-24 hours later and include nausea, heavy vomiting, and diarrhea. If the victim survives dehydration and demineralization, they may die of liver or kidney failure in the next few days.
I have described the symptoms and progression of amanitin poisoning in more detail in this post about the death cap.
Once you realize that you are poisoned with a galerina, immediately get to a hospital even if symptoms seem to recede. Medical help will be necessary. Drink lots of water, preferably mineral, to fight dehydration and demineralization. Take activated carbon; it will bind some of the poison to itself.
That is all supposing that you found out about the poisoning when symptoms appeared, and it was too late to remove the mushrooms from the stomach.
For old galerina mushrooms, the ring may almost or entirely disappear.
If you know that a human (for example, a kid) has eaten a galerina right away, it is a good idea to induce vomiting immediately. Medical help will still be necessary. Get to the hospital as fast as possible.
There is no ultimate antidote for amanitin. The treatment focuses on digestive system lavage, protection of liver cells, and blood cleansing. If the poisoned victim survives, they will probably need transplantation of liver, kidney, or both. For properly treated patients, the survival rate is over 90%.
WHAT TO DO IF MY DOG ATE A GALERINA MARGINATA
If you believe that your dog ate galerina mushrooms, immediately contact a vet. Consult if and how to make the dog throw up. Medical treatment will be necessary to help your dog.
EDIBLE MUSHROOMS THAT LOOK SIMILAR TO GALERINAS
Because of their similarity to deadly galerinas, sheathed woodtufts are expert mushrooms. Unlike galerinas, they have dark spots inside light spots on the cap and are not fibrillose below the stem. Check every mushroom for identification signs; galerinas can grow inside of woodtuft clusters!
The spots on the cap and texture of the stalk are the main tells of sheathed woodtufts. Only forage them if you have already become an expert in mushroom identification.
You can quickly tell wild enoki by their velvety stalks without a ring. Enoki mostly grow in colder weather and withstand frost well. Galerinas will decay fast if they freeze.
Wild enoki aka velvet shanks.
Learn more about enoki identification and foraging in this post.
ARE THERE OTHER GALERINA SPECIES?
There used to be several deadly galerina species recognized, but after a recent DNA analysis, they were all found to be a single species and are now united in the species Galerina marginata. Some of their names were Galerina autumnalis, Galerina unicolor, Galerina venetata, and Galerina oregonsis.
I believe foragers should know all the dangerous mushrooms that grow in their land to make their foraging safer. You should be able to recognize galerinas before you start foraging any small brown mushrooms.