Fungi are neither plants nor animals but belong to their own kingdom. They are unable to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis, as plants do; instead they acquire nutrients from living or dead plants, animals, or other fungi, as animals do. In many larger fungi (lichens excepted) the only visible parts are the fruit bodies, which arise from a largely unseen network of threads called 'hyphae'. These hyphae permeate the fungus's food source, which may be soil, leaf litter, rotten wood, dung, and so on, depending on the species (5).
The death cap grows either singly or in groups, and typically occurs between July and October in Europe and North America, and from March to July in South Africa (4). This deadly species contains two types of toxins. The effects of consuming even small amounts include initial dehydration, nausea and vomiting, followed (up to three days later) by severe kidney and liver damage, resulting ultimately in coma and death. There is no specific antidote for cases of poisoning, and treatment, if delayed, may require liver transplantation (6).