Coprinus comatus (O.F.Mull.) Pers.

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Figure 1. Fruiting body of Coprinus comatus

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Figure 2. Spores of C. comatus.

Coprinus comatus is commonly known as shaggy mane or shaggy ink cap, and is frequently found growing as a saprophyte in home lawns, as well as disturbed locations during the fall. While this species is considered an inky cap from the breakdown of gills as the basidiocarp ages, it is placed within the family Agaricaeae. This fungus can be found in clusters or alone, about 5 to 20 cm tall, with the cap expanding up to 15 cm wide. The cap will be covered in shaggy scales, that eventually turn black with age (Figure 1). The gills are free from the stem, and the hymenium is originally white, turning pink and then black. Spore print of C. comatus is black with spore shape containing 9-13 by 7-9 um, smooth, elliptical spores (Figure 2). However, quickly take the spore print before the gills and cap become black ink after the spores release!

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Figure 3. Development and various ages of fruiting bodies of Coprinus comatus.

Coprinus comatus is an edible species when young, and is stated to be delicious (Figure 3). However, ensure that the specimen is not its similar inky cap cousin Coprinus atramentarius which produces a compound that sickening when consumed with alcohol. These particular specimens were found upon a maintained lawn.

Within the last couple of years C. comatus has been linked to improving diabetes through hypoglycemic activity by vanadium absorption, and has been formerly linked to medicinal properties in Chinese medicine.

Kuo, M. (2008, February). Coprinus comatus: The shaggy mane. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/coprinus_comatus.html

Wang, G., He, M., Yi, P., Wang, J., Li, B. Li, J., Fu, Y., Bai, L., Fu, Q. 2012. Comparison of effect of vanadium absorbed by Coprinus comatus with those of inorganic vanadium on bone in streptozotonic-diabetic rats. Biological trace element research. 149:391-398.

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