There are several types of poison associated with different kinds of poisonous mushrooms.
The chief mechanism is the destruction of the liver, the filtering system for poisons in the body.
The toadstool toxin inhibits an enzyme called RNA polymerase, which synthesizes the genetic material messenger RNA.
Without the messenger KNA, the liver cells stop synthesizing normal proteins and so cease to function. Jaundice sets in. The process lasts four to seven days.
With the filtering system gone, vomiting is frequent before the victim dies.
Frequently, by the time symptoms appear; major irreversible damage has been done. In a few cases, liver transplants have been attempted to save people who have eaten poisonous toadstools.
Wild mushrooms require expert identification.
Among fungi, many make you sick, some make you very sick and some are hallucinogenic. Only a few are fatal.
The most famous fatal toadstool is the death angel, or Amanita phalloides. In this country it is found chiefly on the coasts. It is not native to North America and was probably imported with nursery stock.
Native poisonous species are Amanita verna, Amanita bisporigera and Amanita virosa.
They are usually found in woodlands, associated with various trees.