Field of Science

A fungus amung us

The Phactors recently visited N. Carolina for a family wedding.  While crashing at a relative's house and taking a walk around their little lake side community, these lovely and quite common mushrooms were found poking up from the pine needle mulch/litter.  It had rained the day before, so their appearance was almost expected here in the fall.  These were shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) and it's one of the easiest of mushrooms to identify especially because of its almost uniquely columnar cap with its coating of scales.  The long narrow gills inside are snow white when fresh, but they quickly begin to turn dark and will in a short time dissolve into a black inky ooze of spores.  This is typical of the inky cap mushrooms, which TPP featured once before, but not this species.  And the process is called autodeliquescence.  When fresh (white), they are edible, but go easy unless you've eaten them before.  And do avoid alcoholic beverages as the two sometimes produce a bad combination for some people.

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