Coprinellus micaceus

All that glitters… The Glistening Inkcap

These mushrooms love to be in a crowd! They are one of the first to see in the year, fruiting from mid to late spring all the way through to late autumn/early winter.

Coprinus micaceusThe Glistening Inkcap (Coprinellus micaceus) or should I say Inkcaps (plural) in this case, are extremely common; always found in small to large (sometimes very large) and tightly packed groups (caespitose) on or around broad leaf stumps/wood and buried wood. You really can’t miss them.

The best time to find them is when they are young and still with an ovate shaped cap and hopefully haven’t been blasted by wind or rain. You will see the fresh caps are covered in a fine white powder that appears glittery or glistening, hence the common name. This coating, more often than not, will eventually disappear with age and with the interaction of the elements etc.

Each small cap is around 1-4cm in size and generally ochre coloured with a darker cinnamon brown centre. Over time they will expand to produce a bell-like shape; their colour will fade or become dull, often with a greying (blackening) margin.  Also note that, as with many similar of the smaller inkcaps, there are very noticeable grooved markings on the surface, especially nearer to the margin.

The gills are free from the stem and are initially white, maturing to date-brown and eventually black as they turn into an inky liquid (deliquescing) – another common trait of the aptly named Inkcaps.

They are said to be edible, but they don’t seem to be much of a meal to me – or even appealing for that matter! So I haven’t tried to cook and eat any. Please leave a comment on this post if you have indulged – but I can’t imagine there are many recipes out there for them – or maybe there is!

Glistening Inkcap(Coprinellus micaceus)

Glistening Inkcap (Coprinellus micaceus) growing in large, densely packed groups feeing off old stumps and dead wood which is sometimes buried beneath the surface.

QUICK ID TABLE: GLISTENING INKCAP Coprinellus micaceus

CAP / FLESH

Ovate (becoming bell-shaped over time). Ochre coloured; darker brown at the centre. Becoming duller with age.

STEM

4-10cm x 0.2-0.5cm. White.

GILLS / SPORE PRINT

Free from stem; initially white, maturing to date-brown, then to black (deliquescing)
Spore Print: Date brown (see how to take a spore print here).

HABITAT / SEASON

On or around broad-leaved tree stumps, dead and/or buried wood. In large groups.
Late spring to early winter.

EDIBILITY

Edible.

The Genus COPRINUS/COPRINELLUS & Related (Inkcaps): Characteristics to look out for:

• Most species gills dissolve into an inky black liquid as the black spores ripen.
• Grow on the ground, wood or dung.
• Often grow in groups (esp. smaller species)
• Smaller species have distinct radial grooved markings on the cap.

8 replies
  1. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    I came across these the other day. I read that they are poisonous when taken with alcohol due to the coprine.

    Reply
  2. Nikki Hendricks
    Nikki Hendricks says:

    We fried them with brekkie. Mild taste and a bit of a hassle to clean because they’re so fragile, but quite yummy.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      That’s interesting. I don’t know of anybody that has taken the time to try them out. I think because they are so fragile with not much flesh has put me off. Thanks for the info anyway. Cheers. John

      Reply
  3. Jackie Patchett
    Jackie Patchett says:

    Just want to say that we had some the other day. First of the season for us and although brittle, we used a paintbrush to clean them off and fried them whole in butter, 6 or 7 did for 2 of us, and were just like the shaggy ink caps …delicious..we made sure we were not going to be consuming alcohol within the 48hr window

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      I’m surprised and intrigued that these are as tasty as everyone says. I may try some soon myself, because so far I’ve simply avoided them for consumption.

      Reply
  4. Yve
    Yve says:

    Hello,
    I have a mystery.
    Yesterday l had a large group of these mushrooms all around the base of a full grown Downy Birch. Trailing right inside the hollowing trunk. Very pretty.
    This afternoon there is no sign of even 1… bare soil, not much disturbed.
    Any idea what would have eaten them.
    Hedgehog?
    Badger?
    Any clues ?
    Yve

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Ooh. It may have to remain unsolved!
      The fruiting bodies are very delicate and break quite easily. So it could have been disturbed by a small animal. For them to have gone completely, is strange. Perhaps a badger in that case. But I know of no animal/mammal that actually eats this species. The other answer is that, somebody could have taken them for the pot, but they’re not really worth it. Who knows?

      Reply

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