The French public health agency Anses has warned foragers to be extremely careful about what they are picking as the agency has recorded over 500 poisoning cases since July, rising sharply in the last couple of weeks as the season for ceps really gets underway.
“Some poisonous mushrooms are very similar to edible species,” said a spokesman for the agency.
“From July to early October, poison control centres recorded a number of cases of poisoning ranging from 4 to 90 per week.
“This number has risen to 493 cases of poisoning in the last two weeks.”
Ingestion of harmful fungi can lead to severe vomiting and abdominal pain within 12 hours.
In more severe forms, muscle cramps, low blood pressure, cold sweats and collapse can occur.
Foraging for wild mushrooms is hugely popular in rural areas of France, and at this time of year freshly picked mushrooms can also be seen piled high on market stalls.
Ceps are found growing wild across France. Photo: AFP
Particularly prized are ceps, chanterelles and the comfortingly named trompettes des morts (trumpets of the dead) but there are many other species to be found growing wild across France, some of which are toxic.
If you have fallen ill after eating mushrooms, call 15 or the centre antipoison (poison control centre) for your area.