Shaggy Ink Cap Identification – Coprinus comatus

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This post is part of our “100 Plants and Mushrooms” series. Here, you’ll see the mushroom’s main parts – its cap, gills or pores, stipe, and more – all with key identification features.

Known by fun names like the lawyer’s wig and shaggy mane, the Shaggy Ink Cap is commonly found on lawns, waste areas, and alongside gravel roads. This mushroom has a preference for green urban spaces, making it a regular sight even in towns and cities.

Shaggy Ink Cap: Key Parts in Photos

How to identify Shaggy Ink Cap

The Shaggy Ink Cap stands out with its cylindrical cap that seems to envelope most of its stipe when young. As it matures, this cap, measuring between 1.5-3 inches in width, opens up and showcases shaggy scales, which are paler towards the top. These scales have given the mushroom its name.

Beneath the cap, you’ll find gills. In their youth, these gills are white. However, with time, they take on a pink hue before turning black. And here’s where the Shaggy Ink Cap’s other name, “ink cap”, comes from: these gills will dissolve or “deliquesce” into a black liquid filled with spores. This process is so rapid that within hours of being picked or after releasing its spores, the mushroom will turn into a black ink.

The stipe of this mushroom is equally interesting. While fairly thick and white, it can stand tall at a height up to 16 inches. Close to its base, you’ll find a loose ring. If you’re curious about its microscopic characteristics, the spore print of this mushroom is a black-brown, and under a microscope, the spores appear ellipsoidal.

Want to learn more?

Our new book, “A New Forager’s Guide to Wild Foods,” is available on Amazon. It helps beginners learn about how to identify and cook with these 100 common plants and mushrooms. Click the buy button on the right and order your copy now!

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