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Deadly brain-shrinking fungus popping up in parks, several prefectures throughout Japan

27 Comments
By grape Japan

Sightings of the deadly poison fire coral fungus increased in Japan in the month of July, with reports coming from the prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Fukui.

The world's second-deadliest fungal species after the so-called Destroying Angel (amanita virosa), Podostroma cornu-damae, otherwise known as the poison fire coral in English and kaentake (literally "fire mushroom") in Japanese, is native to Japan and Korea but has also been found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and some parts of Australia. With its fiery red color and unusual coral-like shape, it stands out from the dark brown and green shades of dirt, moss, fallen leaves, and other vegetation at the foot of trees where it thrives.

However, you would be ill-advised to eat it. Containing several trichothecene mycotoxins, its fruiting bodies are lethal to humans. Several poisonings have been reported, most recently in 1999 when a man in Niigata died after eating one or two grams soaked in sake and in 2000 when a man in Gunma died after eating the mushroom fried.

Should you be unfortunate to consume it, your symptoms will range from not only stomach aches and vomiting but possibly peeling skin, hair loss, decreases in white blood cells and platelets, organ failure and even a decrease in motor functions, speech, and perception due to shrinking of the cerebellum. Yes, you read that right. This fungus actually shrinks your brain.

And if that weren't bad enough, the poison fire coral is one of the rare fungi believed to cause rashes, swelling, and irritation of the skin by merely touching it.

An increase in sightings in Japan

According to TV Asahi, several specimens of poison fire coral were discovered in a park in the 座間谷戸山公園 Zama Yatoyama Park in Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Park Director Masashi Sugawara explained that staff happened to find the mushroom at the foot of trees in several locations, both in areas inaccessible to the public and in a public area next to a log cabin. They promptly removed the mushrooms with a shovel, including the soil around them, to make sure no mycelia were left behind.

Although the poison fire coral is most common in fall, it can in fact thrive between June and December. As long as there is plenty of humidity, it is impervious to changes in temperature. Since there have been many rainy days and a series of localized heavy rains in July, conditions were ripe for an outbreak.

In addition to Zama City, where the park is located, sightings have also been reported in Yokohama City, Kawasaki City, and Atsugi City in Kanagawa Prefecture, as well as Chiba and Fukui prefectures.

According to Tokyo University of Agriculture Professor Kimiko Hashimoto, poison fire coral thrives on a pathogenic fungus growing in Japanese oak trees affected by Japanese Oak Wilt disease, which is in turn spread by the oak ambrosia beetle.

Damage from the disease has been confirmed in 42 prefectures so far, with Kanagawa Prefecture in particular seeing a fifteen-fold increase in just the last three years. Therefore, it is likely that poison fire coral will continue to thrive.

If you're visiting parks or hiking in the forest in Japan, it's wise to avoid eating, let alone touching any mushrooms you find in the wild unless you are knowledgeable in mushrooms or have a knowledgeable guide with you. There are plenty of delicious edible mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, eringi, enoki and, if you can afford it, even matsutake, for you to enjoy if you buy them in supermarkets or find them on the menu at restaurants.

Read more stories from grape Japan.

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© grape Japan

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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Sightings of the deadly poison fire coral fungus increased in Japan in the month of July, with reports coming from the prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Fukui.

Watch out for the unmasked, monkeys, and now mushrooms.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

This may prove a cheaper,less time-wasting and energy-saving alternative to watching Japanese TV.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Warning people of a known hazard is a public information action common in most countries, not “they,re coming for you”.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Not sure how anyone can eat anything that screams "I'm poisonous" as loudly as that.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Put a mask on it

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Definitely not Magic

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looks incredibly delicious

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am sure that someone will some how try to make a buck $ out of this, just wait and see.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Easy pickins for a conspiracy theory right up there with fluoridation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think that was part of the dinner entree that Xi and Putin shared in their meeting recently. Now we all know why they are screwed in the head!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So now it's come down to trying to freak public out with brain shrinking mushrooms?...ffs.

This.

A simple warning, a simple advice such as "don't go eating poisonous mushroom" is twisted into some political conpiracy theory.

I guess the answer to the question is yes, the world is becoming more political.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Can confirm the shrinking brain symptoms.

My neighbors all ate a bunch they found in a local forest. Two days later they were double masked and vaccinating their small children with the covid jab.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Seeing that picture, shape and color, it is not a mushroom I would like to eat.

And I am always suspicious of colorful, orange and red mushrooms

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If I were to go “Walking in the Forest” (something I probably did daily, as a kid in Florida)

I certainly wouldn’t think to Pick Mushrooms and eat them…only if they were to have been pulled out of cow droppings, maybe.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well what do you know about that. Don't eat things you don't what they are.

Whodda thunk.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seems like quite some folks are experienced or addicted to it and already nothing’s left for shrinking. lol

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How does it taste though?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Rhubarb leaves are also poisonous. They can sometimes be sighted in gardens and allotments, trying to look like Kale, waiting their chance. Learn ninja skills and never drop your guard when in close proximity to the natural world.

On the plus side, any budding poisoners out there can add this scarlet beauty to their list.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So now it's come down to trying to freak public out with brain shrinking mushrooms?...ffs.

Please try not to freak out worrying that innocuous new articles are an attempt to freak out the public. Don't live in fear.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This sounds like 02:00 in Shinsaibashi

... your symptoms will range from not only stomach aches and vomiting but possibly peeling skin, hair loss, decreases in white blood cells and platelets, organ failure and even a decrease in motor functions, speech, and perception due to shrinking of the cerebellum.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just like a mouldy cocktail sausage found under the sofa..... Why would anyone think of eating that?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The incident of the man eating the mushroom soaked in sake may indicate he was trying it as some kind of remedy. This is fortunately not so common in Japan, but some people have the terribly wrong idea that if anything is natural then it must be good for their health and may even help with disease. As the example clearly proves, even one or two grams were enough to kill a person.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You did it now JT! There will be hundreds of danger lovers crawling in the forests from now looking for this mushrooms!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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