Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011

Plant of the Day (December 5th, 2011) - Coprinus comatus (O. F. Müll.) Grey

Today's “Plant” of the Day is a fungus again. This time, it's Coprinus comatus (O. F. Müll.) Grey. from the Psathyrekkacae family. In German, this fungus is known as “Schopf-Tintling” “Tintenpilz” or “Spargelpilz” while common English names are “shaggy ink cap” or “shaggy mane”

C. comatus - habitus; please note the
fibrous surface

It's a large fungus. The cap can reach heights until 10 centimetres (4 inches) and has 3 cm (1,25 inches) in diameter. The young cap is egg-shaped and long. With age, the cap spreads out and becomes bell-shaped. The colour of the young mushroom is white. The surface of old caps is scaly and fibrous.

C. comatus - fungi on a turf in a park

The gills of the young fungus are white and will become pink with time. The black spores are eliptical.

Probably, the most interesting feature of this fungus is the peculiarity of the cap to dissolve into a viscous black liquid. This liquid reminds of ink, what gave the species also the name “ink cap” or “Tintenpilz”. In this way, C. comatus spreads out its spores.

C. comatus - (unsharp) picture of some fungi

C. comatus
is native to the whole Northern hemisphere. In Middle Europe, this fungus can be found in September (however, I've also found individuals in November). It's a typical “city fungus” and can be found in parks, at roadsides and on turfs. A speciality of this fungus is, that it also catches and eats nematodes.

Young mushrooms are edible and have a good taste, but you have to hurry, because shortly after collecting, the cap will dissolve in that inky liquid.

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