Many moons ago I had planned on becoming a mushroom expert. Well, last year went by really quickly and I didn’t actually hunt down any fungus. We had a long and very dry summer, so the mushrooms weren’t as obvious when the wetter weather finally rolled around, but this year there are already lots!
I’d like to introduce you to the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) mushroom.
These shroomies are common on lawns and gravel roads, and are pretty easy to identify by their long shaggy caps. They are also called Lawyer’s Wigs. We found lots of them on the gravel road while walking the dogs on Decourcy island this weekend and gathered a bunch up, though in the end we didn’t eat them because they often react with alcohol and can make you sick if you consume both. It was thanksgiving so we were having wine and champagne with dinner. Apart from the alcohol reaction (which doesn’t happen in everyone) they are safe to consume and recipes can be found online. Shaggy manes were considered to be one of the “fool-proof four” (along with chicken of the woods, morels and puffballs) for their easy identification and few poisonous lookalikes.
These mushrooms are interesting in that they melt and turn inky black really quickly. Once picked, you should use them immediately so they remain fresh. You can see even the ones I picked started to turn black just a few short hours after I get them back to the cabin. I found a bunch more around the driveway that had already turned inky and snapped some shots so you can see them in all their melted, messy glory.
^ I spotted these ones on the way to the cabin (above), and on the way out the next morning they had already melted to nothing (below)! Gotta get them while they’re young.
Here is another small patch of Shaggys that had melted into black ink. Apparently the ink can stain your hands and clothes, and even be used as an ink for writing if you harvest it, though I’m not sure how that would be done.
If you are interested in eating Shaggy Manes they are safe, but should be picked in their prime like in these photos. As you can see they can get quite big! They are also super delicate so if you are collecting them be cautious as they will bruise and blacken if jostled too much.
In searching for shaggy mane recipes I came across a blog called Forager Chef which has some good info about Shaggys in addition to a whole host of other mushrooms (and beautiful recipes definitely worth a look!!) Happy foraging!