Saturday, 27 October 2012

Shaggy Inkcap

Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer's Wig). Beacon Wood Country Park, 20 October 2012.
Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer's Wig). Beacon Wood Country Park, 20 October 2012.
This little group, standing about 8 inches tall, was right at the entrance to Beacon Wood near a rubbish bin.  They like disturbed ground. Last year I saw a clump growing through the gravel of a friend's driveway.

They grow fast, and you can see clumps of earth on top that have been raised out of the soil.  The skin of the cap breaks up into shaggy scales as the fungus grows, revealing the fibrous hair-like understructure which gives it its species name.

Originally they are quite white, and the cap is attached to the stipe by a membrane called a partial veil, which protects the immature spores.  At the stage shown here, the only remaining trace of the veil is the loose ring which has fallen down the stem.  (Not all fungus stipe rings are mobile like this.)

As the fungus matures and black spores ripen, the edges of the cap liquefy and drip as a black liquid. You can see this clearly in a related species I showed last year: Magpie Ink Cap.

Here's a closer shot of the largest cap from a different angle.  I am reluctant to pay a lot of heed to those amber-coloured droplets on the caps; they are not mentioned in my books, and for all I know they might be dog urine. 

Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer's Wig). Beacon Wood Country Park, 20 October 2012.
Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap or Lawyer's Wig). Beacon Wood Country Park, 20 October 2012.

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