Coprinus comatus

Shaggy Mane or Lawyer’s Wig

Order Agaricales, family Agaricaceae

CAP CYLINDRICAL, ELONGATED, WITH SHAGGY SCALES

Cap:  4-15 cm tall, 3-5 cm wide; cylindrical, then cap edge curls up as gills liquefy; dry, white with shaggy white to light reddish-brown scales

GILLS BECOME BLACK AND INKY

Gills:  free or nearly so; very close, narrow; white, then pinkish-red, then black and inky

STALK WITH MOVABLE RING

Stalk:  5-20 cm long, 1-2 cm thick; slender, fragile; smooth; white

Ring:  on lower stalk, movable

SPORE PRINT BLACK

Spores 10-14 x 5.5-8 µm, elliptical, smooth, apical pore

ON LAWNS, ROADSIDES, OFTEN IN LARGE GROUPS

EDIBLE, CHOICE WHEN YOUNG

Lookalikes: 

Vomiter (Chlorophyllum molybdides) -- lookalike when young but expands in age (C. comataus remains cylindrical) and has greenish spore print

Shaggy parasol (Lepiota rachodes) -- white spore print, expands instead of remaining cylindrical

Coprinopsis atramentaria – smooth brown-gray caps with radial lines

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO KNOW...

Shaggy manes won’t stand erect forever. Soon they will be an inky mess, unfit for anything, except -- as Terry Philbin reports -- for kids to use for drawing on sidewalks.  If you collect them before they've gone inky and you want to keep them in good shape, immerse them in water and refrigerate.

We suggested this to a woman whose garden was filled with shaggy manes. She declined and, instead, politely offered them to us with the comment:  "Take them or my husband will just kick them over."

Denver amateur mycologist Paul Goldsmith once saw a large section of a parking lot upheaved by shaggy manes:  "They just popped that thing right out of the ground," says Goldsmith.

PENELOPE'S PANTRY

Although Coprinus tend to lose their shape when cooked, it is cooking that brings up the exquisite flavor of the edible species.  Always choose clean specimens when spores are still light.  On the larger C. comatus, you can cut away the ripening spores, but cook all Coprinus as soon as possible -- This is one mushroom that cannot be stored raw for more than a few hours.  I generally make duxelles from any edible Coprinus I find as soon as I get home with them and freeze them it in pint containers.  The following soup recipe is an elegant companion to cucumber sandwiches, veal or fowl dishes.

Cream of Lawyer's Wig Soup (shaggy mane)

2 T butter
1 T oil
1 rib diced celery
3 C shaggy mane duxelles, defrosted (See recipe in the Cooking with Urban Mushrooms)
1-1/2 C stock (Chicken or vegetable)
1 T mushroom powder (See "Preparations," in Cooking with Urban Mushrooms)
4 T flour
3 T dry sherry
1/4 t white pepper
½ t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
1 t ground tarragon (optional)
2 C half and half

In a large saucepan, lightly saute the celery in the butter/oil.  Add the duxelles and mushroom powder.  There should be liquid released from the thawed duxelles as it heats.  Over medium heat, reduce the liquid by half then stir in the flour to make a roux.  Add the stock and spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, process in a blender, return to the stove, and add the sherry and half and half.  Reheat over medium flame, stirring constantly.  Do not let it boil.  Serves 4 as a side dish.

 

 


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