Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Shaggy Mane
- Coprinus comatus

"Clyde Christensen, longtime mycologist at the University of Minnesota, included Coprinus comatus as one of his "foolproof four" edible mushrooms. Although it could be argued that nothing is fully foolproof, especially when it comes to mushrooms" [Trudell MPNW]

"Shaggy manes are frequently found in disturbed ground, and the edges of dirt roads can produce many mushrooms. In the Rocky Mountains, Coprinus comatus can be seen from the car during monsoon season by simply driving four-wheel-drive roads and keeping an eye on the roadsides." []

"DNA studies over the last decade make it clear that Coprinus comatus is fairly closely related to species of Agaricus and Lepiota, but only distantly related to most other mushrooms whose gills turn to black ink--for example, Coprinopsis atramentaria or Coprinellus micaceus. The genus Coprinus, which once held all such mushrooms, now holds only Coprinus comatus and a few similar mushrooms--and it turns out that the presence of a ring on the stem and a string-like strand of fibers inside the stem's hollow cavity (see the third illustration) turn out to be better predictors of the genus Coprinus than deliquescing gills." []

"A monster version of Coprinus comatus from the Pacific Northwest, with a stem up to 50 cm long (that's half a meter!), has been described as Coprinus colosseus. Several varieties of Coprinus comatus have also been described, including var. excentricus (spores 14-18 [microns] long, with a very eccentric pore), and var. caprimammillatus (spores 8-15 [microns] long, with a slightly eccentric pore). See van de Bogart (1976) for more information." []


COMMENTS: "Shaggy manes are the soldiers among mushrooms, the sentinels of the roads. Their tall, shaggy cylindrical heads are distinctive even in silhouette, and when inky individuals are found in the vicinity of young ones, there can be no doubtas to their identity. The poisonous Chlorophyllum molybdites can be similar when young, but expands in age and doesn't deliquesce. Podaxis pistillaris is quite similar in shape and color, but lacks gills. "Shags" are as pleasing to the eye as to the palate, especially in the delicate reddish tints the gills assume as they mature. "Shags" also possess a special spontaneity-seemingly popping up overnight after a rain, while most mushrooms fruit several days after. Extreme aridity may arrest development so that the spores never mature and the gills remain white, or the gills blacken and then shrivel up rather than deliquescing. Several forms and varieties of the shaggy. mane have been described, including a small, oval one only 5-6 cm high. The height of the larger forms seems to depend partially on the depth of the humus they must transcend-I have found specimens in redwood duff by a road that were two feet tall-but the "normal" height is 6-20 cm. Other species: C. colosseus is a giant version of the shaggy mane with stalk 35-50 cm long and spores 17-20 microns long; it has been described from Washington by Fred Van De Bogart, but is rare. Several small (cap less than 5 cm high) versions of the shaggy mane also occur, including: C. palmeranus, terrestrial; C. alnivorus, wood-inhabiting; C. sterquilinus and C. umbrinus, on dung or compost piles, the former with large spores and the latter with a brownish stem base; and C. spadiceisporus, on the dung of wild animals (rabbit, deer, etc.). All of these have the ring (annulus) characteristic of the shaggy mane and are too small and rare to be worth eating." [MushDemyst]
Comments "With its distinctive columnar, shaggy cap which dissolves into ink at maturity, Coprinus comatus is one of the easiest of all mushrooms to recognize. Coprinopsis atramentaria, another inky cap, is somewhat similar, but has a smooth to fibrillose, not scaly cap surface, and lacks the elongated cap shape of C. comatus." [Mykoweb]


Edible Use


"nitrogen constituted 5.79 per cent, of the total dry substance of Coprinus comatus.... Thus, notwithstanding the 5.79 per cent, of nitrogen in Coprinus comatus, we find but .82 per cent, in the form of actually available (i. e., digestible) proteids, or approximately one-seventh of what was formerly supposed to be present." [Atkinson SAF]

"Nutritional Content: 25-29% protein (N x 4. 38); 3% fat; 59% carbohydrates; 3-7% fiber and 18% ash. (Crisan & Sands (1978); Samajpati (1979))." [GGMM Stamets] Chemical composition of newly developed cultivated mushrooms (g/100g DW); Fat 1.95%, Protein 10%, TDF 34.6%, IDF 32.8%, SDF 1.79%, Ash 10.10%, Moisture 6.23% [Peter C. Cheung]



"After experimenting with its cultivation, I am pleasantly surprised at how well this species adapts to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor substrates. Although the commercial cultivation of this mushroom is limited by its predisposition to disintegrate into an inky mess, this mushroom is fantastic for those who can consume it within two days of picking."[GGMM Stamets] "This is a great mushroom to grow in your yard and in compost piles. Once an outdoor patch is established, Shaggy Manes can fruit for many years." [GGMM Stamets]

"After pasteurized compost is inoculated, the substrate is completely colonized in two weeks with a cottony, non-rhizomorphic mycelium. When colonization is complete, a moist casing (peat moss! gypsum) layer is applied. After 10 days, the mycelium can be seen reaching through the upper surface of the casing. At this stage, lower the temperature, increase watering, and introduce light to stimulate fruiting. Yields can be substantially increased if the casing layer is vigorously raked just as the mycehum beings to show on the surface of the casing."
"The primordia form as circular dials, between the size of a dime to a quarter. The primordia are unique in that they are wide and flat. An inner collar forms within the dial and arises to form a dome. This dome soon shoots up to form a recognizable mushroom. The circular zone visible at the primordial stage becomes the movable ring resting on the stem of the mature mushroom." [GGMM Stamets]

Coprinus Sp.

"Some species of Coprinus have basidiocarps which are edible when young. Coprinus comatus is an example. The fruit bodies of C. atramentarius are edible and harmless except if consumed with alcohol, which results in unpleasant symptoms of nausea and palpitations. The substance associated with this effect has been identified as coprine (Fig. 19.15a), and this is similar in its effects to the drug disulfuram (antabuse) which is used in attempts to wean alcoholics from their addiction, although it is different chemically." [IntrotoFun3] Most species are too small to be worth collecting. [Trudell MPNW]


Page last modified on Friday, June 30, 2023 8:09 AM