Along with the rest of Las Cruces, New Mexico State University has had an increase in the growth of mushrooms on campus grounds, and an NMSU researcher warns students, faculty, staff and local community members not to ingest the mushrooms.
“Mushrooms have always intrigued human beings, and there are continuous attempts to use them for gastronomical and medicinal purposes,” said Soum Sanogo, Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science Department professor. “However, people must remember not to pick mushrooms for consumption unless they have been vetted as suitable for consumption.”
The mushrooms are members of a fungal group called Chlorophyllum molybdites, also known as false parasol. They grow from late spring to fall due to warm temperatures and high soil moisture from the abundance of rain, dew formation and irrigation. With the nearly seven inches of rain in August, about a five-inch increase above average, the area has temporarily created an environment for the mushrooms to thrive.
The mushrooms are described to have unique and distinct features of green-colored gills on the cap undersides when mature. These mushrooms commonly grow in rings, also called “fairy rings.”
The mushrooms contain toxic proteins that cause sickness, including symptoms of nausea, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain.
In addition to being harmful to humans, false parasol is harmful to animals as well. Sanogo advised pet owners to remove and dispose of the mushrooms to prevent ingestion. Otherwise, he said, it’s fine to let the mushrooms grow, because they will eventually die off.
Sanogo and staff members from his research program in the EPPWS Department are collecting the mushrooms to evaluate their potential in combating plant pathogens that affect crops in New Mexico.
“They are important components of soil health and help with the degradation of organic materials in soil,” Sanogo said.