By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) — Lazarus Bell is a mushroom aficionado.

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“I don’t know a whole lot but I know the scary ones,” he says.

Last Friday, he was out on his daily walk when he spotted something unusual.

“It was bright white. It was unlike any other mushroom that I had ever seen in person. It looked like there was a beam of light coming down through the tree canopy and hitting it,” says Bell.

(credit: CBS)

It was a deadly amanita bisporigera or “destroying angel” mushroom. They aren’t poisonous to touch, but can be deadly if eaten by humans or pets.

Vera Evenson the Curator of the Herbarium of Fungi at The Denver Botanic Gardens says, “One half of a cap can kill your liver and you don’t even know it.”

(credit: CBS)

The toxic mushrooms are easily identified by their white color, the skirt on the stem and cup at the base. They’re usually a few inches tall.

The mushroom is one of two deadly mushrooms that typically grow in Colorado, but it’s the only one that can grow in the city.  There have only been eight found in Colorado, and never before in the Denver area.

Bell says, “They shouldn’t be growing historically in this area.”

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Lazarus immediately recognized it and asked the homeowner who’s yard it was in if he could take it with him to the Denver Botanic Gardens for further study. He says she was happy to oblige.

“She was very excited to have it taken away from her yard. She wasn’t super excited that I was there picking it or that it was there, but she was happy to have it gone,” Bell said.

Ben Lazarus (credit: CBS)

 

No one knows if there are more out there, but Lazarus says it’s important to keep an eye out.

“They’re definitely something to look out for if you’re interested or worried about mushrooms like that,” he says.

Typically “destroying angel” mushrooms are bright white, have a skirt on the stem and a cup at the base.

If you see one of these on your property you should get rid of it. The Botanic Gardens says you can just toss it out, or if you want you can donate it to them for research.

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Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4