Elite life



   The genus Coprinus is a small genus of mushrooms consisting of Coprinus comatus (Shaggy) and several of its close relatives.Many people are interested in fungi because they are edible. But everyone also knows that wild fungi can be both delicious and deadly poisonous. Unfortunately, there is no simple way of saying what is edible and what is poisonous.


Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus)

   It is a well known and good edible, but probably not one for beginners, since it can bear a superficial resemblance to several poisonous mushrooms. Growing alone or in clusters, lines, or fairy rings on lawns, wood chips, or hard-packed ground; summer and fall; widely distributed in North America.
   Cap: 3-15 cm; oval to rounded-cylindrical when young, expanding to bell-shaped with a lifting margin; in age turning to black "ink"; dry; whitish with a brownish center; with large, shaggy scales; margin lined at maturity.
   Gills: Free from the stem; white, becoming pinkish, then black; turning to black "ink"; very crowded.
   Stem: 5-20 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; frequently tapering to apex; smooth; white; easily separable from cap; hollow, with a string-like strand of fibers hanging inside.
   Flesh: White throughout; soft.

Alcohol Inky (Coprinus atramentarius, Coprinopsis atramentaria)

   Found widely distributed throughout North America and Europe. Season May-September (November-April in California). Edible but dangerous because it causes alarming symptoms (nausea, palpitations) when taken in conjunction with alcohol; indeed, it has been given to alcoholics to cause these symptoms and eventually cure their habit. Comment Good black drawing ink used to be made from the deliquesced caps by boiling the black "ink" with a little water and cloves.
   Cap 3-7 cm high, ovoid at first, then broadly conical when expanded, with the margin irregularly puckered at first, then becoming split; gray to gray-brown; dry, smooth or silky with minute scales or veil remnants, especially near the center. Gills free, crowded, broad; white then lavender-gray then inky black and soon deliquescing. Stem 70-170 x 9-20 mm, hollow; whitish; dry, silky-fibrous; fibrous white partial veil leaving ring zone near base. Odor faint and pleasant or none. Spores ellipsoid, smooth, with pore at tip, 7-11 x 4-6 μm. Deposit black. Habitat usually in clusters on the ground near rotting or buried wood or in grass.

Fairy Ink Cap (Coprinus disseminatus)

   Habitat in large groups (sometimes hundreds) on stumps and debris of deciduous wood and on lawns and grassy areas. Found widely distributed in eastern North America and California and Europe. Season May-October (November-March in southern California). Edible but not worthwhile. It is an extremely fragile mushroom, and the caps quickly crumble when handled.
   Cap 0.5-1.5cm high, ovoid at first, expanding to convex or bell-shaped; pale buff with buff or honey-buff center; deeply grooved, minutely scruffy. Gills attached, nearly distant, broad; white then amber to black, but not inky or deliquescing. Stem 15-40 x 1-3mm, hollow, fragile; white with a buff tinge near the base, which is covered in white down; smooth to minutely hairy. Flesh fragile. Odor none. Spores ellipsoid to almond-shaped, smooth, 7-9.5 x 4-5?. Deposit dark brown or blackish. Dermatocystidia thin-walled, blunt, cylindrical, with a swollen base, 75-100 x 20-30 μm.

Glistening Ink Cap (Coprinus micaceus)

   This common and beautiful mushroom is widely distributed in North America. It grows in clusters on decaying wood--though the wood may be buried, causing the mushrooms to look terrestrial. It can be distinguished from similar coprinoid mushrooms by the fine, mica-like granules that adorn the fresh caps (though rain will frequently wash the granules away). It is variable in color, but typically some version of honey brown or amber. Growing in clusters on decaying wood (the wood may be buried, causing the mushrooms to appear terrestrial); spring, summer, and fall (sometimes in winter); frequently urban, but also found in woods; widely distributed in North America.
   Cap: 2-15 cm, oval when young, expanding to broadly convex or bell-shaped, sometimes with a curled up and/or tattered margin; honey brown, tawny, amber, or sometimes paler; becoming paler with age, especially towards the margin; buttons covered with mica-like granules which frequently wash off with rain or dew; the margin lined or grooved, usually halfway towards the center or more.
   Gills: Attached to the stem or free from it; pale, becoming brown, then black; deliquescing (turning to black "ink") but usually not completely; close or crowded.
   Stem: 2-8 cm long; 3-6 mm thick; equal; smooth to very finely hairy or granulated; white; fibrous; hollow.
   Flesh: White to pale throughout; thin; soft.


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