While rare in Colorado, the Destroying Angel Mushroom has only been found eight times in the state, and always south of Castle Rock, according to records at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
The mushroom is pure white and has a smooth stem and cap. It is slightly bulbous at the base of the stem, which has a ring-like membrane near the top, according to the Colorado Mycological Society.
“The important feature is the cup-like sack buried in the ground at the base of the stem,” according to the society.
A mushroom look-alike, called the Sweater, does not have the bulb at the base.
The mushroom’s poison attacks the liver after consumption and symptoms often don’t appear until hours after later. It is not dangerous to touch. It’s equally threatening to humans as it is to animals, according to the Colorado Mycological Society.
Linnea Gillman, a past president of the group, holds a master’s degree in mycology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She said the mushroom could end up in any yard with an oak tree.
“We don’t want to turn people into mycophobes, because there’s already plenty of fear of mushrooms out there, and deadly mushrooms are still rare in Denver,” she said. “But everyone should know that the Destroying Angel has now been found in the Denver area.”
Gillman, along with other experts at the Denver Botanical Gardens’ Herbarium of Fungi, confirmed that the mushroom found in the Aurora yard was indeed deadly. The mushroom will be kept at the herbarium for further studies.