The same poisonous mushroom that killed a Victoria toddler is growing in several areas across the Capital Region, according to a local mycologist.

Dr. Brenda Callan took CTV News on a tour of areas where “death cap” mushrooms are prevalent, including the Uplands neighbourhood, Government House and Crystal Garden downtown.

Since 1997, the mushrooms known scientifically as Amanita phalloides have also been sighted in other parts of downtown and in Saanich and Oak Bay, sprouting up near old imported trees like hornbeams, or the linden trees that line Uplands Avenue.

“They might’ve been underground with that tree root for many decades, and they’re just starting to produce mushrooms just now,” said Callan.

Death caps look edible and even taste sweet, but their poison attacks the liver with potentially fatal consequences.

Island Health said it may put up signs in areas where the mushrooms have been spotted warning of their fatal potential, after a three-year-old boy was killed from ingesting one this week.

The boy and his family mistakenly harvested the mushroom from an unspecified downtown garden. He was rushed to Victoria General Hospital after displaying symptoms, and later airlifted to an Edmonton hospital, where he died Tuesday night.

Island Health confirmed the family has lived in the area for years, but would not expand on their experience with mushroom foraging.

“Given that only one person fell desperately ill and sadly succumbed, you wonder if this was just a solitary mistake, if one of these mushrooms found their way in with these other ones,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer.

Health officials fear the push to eat local may be pushing some toward the mushrooms.

“We suspect that we’re going to see more individuals interested in doing this sort of harvest. I think the myth we want to dispel is just because it’s taking place in an urban setting, it’s safe,” Stanwick said.

The family is now desperate to warn other foragers to stay away from the deadly fungi, according to Island Health.

death cap mushroom map