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What Happens If You Eat A Jack O’Lantern Mushroom?

Jack o’lantern mushrooms look bright and sunny and oh so inviting, but are they edible? What happens if you eat a jack o’lantern mushroom, and how soon will you get sick after doing so? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more!

Are Jack O’Lantern Mushrooms Edible?

are jack-o-lantern mushroom edible

At first, the bright yellow caps of jack o’lanterns look pretty harmless. For this reason, a lot of people assume they are edible, but they are not.

Jack o’lanterns won’t necessarily kill you as some mushrooms can, but they will make you pretty sick. For this reason, jack o’lantern mushrooms should not be eaten.

Jack o’lanterns contain two toxins: muscarine and illudin. While neither of these toxins are deadly, they can produce some pretty nasty digestive symptoms. 

Jack o’lanterns are easy to confuse with various edible mushroom varieties, most commonly chanterelles and wild yellow oysters. It’s extremely important to know the differences between these mushrooms if you are foraging for them yourself.

To learn more about the jack o’lantern and how to avoid mistaking it for edible mushrooms, check out the following video:

How Toxic are Jack O’Lantern Mushrooms?

According to the Illinois Natural History Survey, jack o’lantern poisoning,

“has been described as at first being afraid you’re going to die, then being afraid you’re not going to die, and finally, after several hours of abdominal pain and vomiting, you begin to feel better.”

Depending on how much you eat and how your body reacts to the toxin, you may experience more than just nausea and vomiting. You may also have diarrhea, severe cramping, chills, and excess saliva production.

What’s more, these symptoms can linger for up to several days, leading to complications from dehydration if you are unable to replenish the fluids your body is losing.

All that sounds pretty bad, of course, and they are all good reasons to avoid eating jack o’lanterns. That said, jack o’lanterns are far from being one of the most toxic mushroom varieties, so even though you may experience a rough few hours or days, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be left with any lasting damage from consuming them.

How Soon Will You Get Sick if You Eat Jack O’Lantern Mushrooms?

How Soon Will You Get Sick if You Eat Jack O’Lantern Mushrooms

It’s hard to say exactly, as the answer depends on several factors. How many jack o’lanterns you eat, how quickly your body absorbs the toxins, and even your age and health can affect how quickly and how severely you experience symptoms. 

In most cases, the toxins will be absorbed rather quickly and symptoms can begin in as little as a few minutes after eating the mushrooms. Sometimes, though, you may not begin experiencing symptoms for a few hours.

For the most part, there is no need to go to the hospital for jack o’lantern poisoning. 

Jack o’lantern toxins will not cause organ damage as long as you are able to stay hydrated during your sickness. It’s important that you drink lots of water, and keep drinking it even if you throw it up repeatedly. 

If you can’t drink very well, then suck on ice chips. You might try sipping on warm, unsweetened ginger tea to help settle your stomach and reduce the nausea.

Get as much rest as possible, and use heat such as a heating pad or hot water bottle to relieve the abdominal pain.

If your symptoms persist beyond a few days, if they seem to worsen over time, or if you become dehydrated, it may be time to seek medical attention. 

If you go to the hospital, the doctor will likely order IV fluids to help combat dehydration. They may also treat you with potassium supplementation to replace potassium lost through vomiting and diarrhea. 

Conclusion

Eating jack o’lantern mushrooms can lead to a very unpleasant several hours to several days. These toxic mushrooms won’t kill you, but they can cause significant digestive upset and days of vomiting and diarrhea.

To avoid accidentally eating jack o’lanterns, learn to tell the difference between them and similar looking edible varieties. Only eat mushrooms that you know have been foraged by someone who knows what they’re doing, and if you have any doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid eating them.

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