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.
The 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!
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.
4-10cm x 0.2-0.5cm. White.
GILLS / SPORE PRINT
Free from stem; initially white, maturing to date-brown, then to black (deliquescing)
HABITAT / SEASON
On or around broad-leaved tree stumps, dead and/or buried wood. In large groups.
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.