This common and cheeky mushroom has a trick up it’s sleeve. If you’re a ‘tea totaller’ then there’s nothing to worry about. Just throw it in the pan, cook it up and get stuck in.
On the other hand if you’re fond of the odd tipple – beware! The Common Ink Cap (Coprinopsis atramentaria) inhibits the breakdown of alcohol in the liver, and toxic levels will build up in the body.
Ironically, my first discovery of this mushroom was actually on a Sunday afternoon on my way home from the pub! I thought it best to leave it where it was. Had a snooze instead!
If consumed with alcohol a selection of symptoms will occur, including hot flushes, redness of the face/upper body, headaches, sweating, shortness of breath and some tingling in the limbs. These side effects, although not too serious, would be very unwelcome after lunch time. So if you’re going to try some, avoid the juice for a good 2-3 days (I’m guessing, as I haven’t tried it myself). Anyone fancy a pint?
Anyway, that’s the interesting technical part over with, now on to what our common friend looks like. One of its most striking features which it shares with it’s other family members is the cap itself, which has a distinctive ‘torpedo’ or ‘bell-like’ shape. As it matures it will open up, sometimes only slightly, and begin to lose colour and disintegrate. It’s at this stage the gills dissolve and create an inky fluid. In the past this fluid literally has been used for writing ink. Wonderful stuff.
So stay off the booze if you want a taster. Hope it’s worth it.
I’m off to the pub. Cheers…
Update 25.04.11 – Just a quick note on the habitat of the Common Ink Cap. Although most of my finds have been in grassland or gardens, this mushroom is equally at home in woodland. Recent discoveries were found at the base of a rotting tree stump and also coming through a pavement next to a wall (behind which was woodland). Their main source of nutrients is from dead rotting wood underground, hence the diverse locations. TTFN.
The Common Ink Cap in all its glory, although in a slightly phallic pose!
See my post on the ‘Shaggy Inkcap’ which is very similar to our Common Inkcap, albeit shaggy!