The visually distinctive Shaggy Mane mushroom will melt into inky goo.

An eminently edible fungi

Inky droplets splashed my hands as I foraged for supper this week

Inky droplets splashed my hands as I foraged for supper this week.

Fearing a permanent tattoo, I hurriedly plucked out the last of a precious shaggy mane clump I’d found growing roadside where only yesterday there was naught.

Popular, common and easy to identify, this eminently edible fungi was destined for my frying pan. Pleasantly flavoured, ‘shaggies’ are delish in soups, omelets, and frittatas or simply cooked in butter and served over toast points.  The flesh is white, soft and delicate, but must be cooked immediately as it disintegrates quickly (though the stems last longer). Because of its perishability, this mushroom is not sold at commercial markets.

I’d caught them just in time, as ‘Coprinus comatus’ can fruit as a solid young mushroom, and begin to melt into black goo in 24 to 48 hours. Technically speaking, the gills autodigest or “deliquesce,” turning into black liquid as they mature. Liquefied C. comatus was the writing ink used by monks and ancients.

The most prominent feature of this overall white, gilled mushroom is the bullet-like shape of its scaly cap atop an elevated, smooth white stem. The shaggy’s white gills turn pink, then black, and the spore print is resoundingly black. Firm Shaggy Manes 10 cm (4 in.) or taller, which have not yet begun to dissolve, are considered edible.

Other members of the genus Coprinus are less palatable and even toxic. The closely related C. atramentarius or “alcohol inky” contains coprine, a substance which acts like medicinal Antabuse. Consuming alcoholic beverages of any sort before or after eating these mushrooms causes acute gastric discomfort.

Forage for Shaggy Mane on hard-packed ground, along gravelly roadsides, or in lawns. Home cultivation is possible by placing old, blackened mushrooms and goo in water for a day to release the spores, then pouring the solution over compost or gravel.

‘Tis the season for mushroom hunts. Other edible local fungi include the chanterelle, lobster, cauliflower and hedgehog mushrooms. Be absolutely certain about a mushroom’s identity; this is one area that leaves no margin for error.

 

E-mail Christine at: wildernesswest@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

Search for missing persons south of Campbell River suspended for the night

First responders rushed to Clinton Rd. near Stories Beach today after initial… Continue reading

Campbell River fire crews rescue two seniors trapped by mudslide, four homes evacuated

The City of Campbell River issued an evacuation order for four homes… Continue reading

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Power outages in Campbell River region after last nights storm

Stormy weather across the region has knocked out the power for many… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

UPDATE: Ferries sailing again after stormy weather caused cancellations

B.C. Ferries cancelled numerous sailings around Vancouver Island today, Jan. 21

Homes, roads flooded in Whiskey Creek following downpour

Crews aid flooded homeowners while roads near Hwy 4 closed Sunday morning

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Most Read