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Shaggy Mane

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Shaggy Mane, Coprinus comatus, is one of a group of mushrooms known as Inky Caps.  Both of these common names reflect the appearance of the mushroom at different stages of its development – the cap has white, shaggy scales, and as the mushroom matures its gills liquefy into a black substance that was once used as ink. Most Inky Caps have gills that are very thin and very close to one another, which does not allow for easy release of the spores.  In addition, the elongated shape of this mushroom does not allow for the spores to get caught in air currents as in most other mushrooms. The liquification/self-digestion process is actually a strategy to disperse spores more efficiently. The gills liquefy from the bottom up as the spores mature. Thus the cap peels up and away, and the maturing spores are always kept in the best position for catching wind currents. This continues until the entire fruiting body has turned into black ink.

2 responses

  1. Jean Harrison

    These mushrooms are easy to identify and very edible. But you must cook them soon after picking or they’ll turn to ink. I once picked and cooked and ate a huge batch from the grass along the driveway to the North Hartland Dam. My cautious husband wouldn’t taste them, but my loyal and trusting mother did. We both survived.

    November 13, 2012 at 3:53 am

  2. Betsy Janeway

    Mary, my sister Shiela Swett gave me your wonderful book. Two weeks ago I found and picked and cooked 18 tall shaggy mane mushrooms that grew in our sheep pasture. I had ignored them thinking they were bits of shed sheep fleece. Then I took a closer look… have wanted to find shaggy manes for years. Delicious! Betsy

    November 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

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