Why are some mushroom-shaped fungi known as toadstools? In English, the name toadstool is usually applied to any inedible or poisonous mushroom-shaped fungus. It appeared in print as early as the fifteenth century, but no-one can say for sure how the name originated.
One belief holds that toads made mushrooms poisonous by sitting on them, although there is no evidence that toads make a habit of sitting on toadstools, or even visiting them! Clearly, however, toads and toadstools share a common reputation for being poisonous.
People of many widely separated cultures have observed this link. The name toadstool, or variations of it, has been used in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It seems likely that the term arose independently more than once in these different cultures.