Public Description of Coprinus comatus (O.F. Müll.) Pers.

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Name: Coprinus comatus (O.F. Müll.) Pers.
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 Public Description (Default) [Edit]
 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Zach Duga (Private)
 Draft For Wild Mushrooms Of The Northeastern United States By Erlon Bailey (Private)
 Draft For Macrofungi Of The Pacific Northwest By Chaelthomas (Private)

Description status: Unreviewed

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Agaricaceae

General Description:

Coprinus comatus is a well-known and relatively easily recognized mushroom with gills that “deliquesce” or turn into a black “ink” with age. Found growing alone, scattered, in lines, or in clusters or fairy rings. Saprobic. Pileus 5-14 cm long, 3-5 cm wide; oval to cylindrical when young, becoming broadly conic (5-8 cm) to nearly plane with age. White to whitish with a brownish central disc at apex. Large shaggy scales. Flesh thin; white; soft; fibrous. Gills free; very crowded; very narrow; white, becoming pinkish and eventually black, then turning into a black “ink” from the margin upward. Stipe 5-20 cm long; 1-2 cm thick; smooth; white; hollow; slightly bulbose base.

Basidiospores 9-13 × 7-9 micrometers in size; ellipitcal; smooth with an apical pore. Spore print black.

Common names include: Shaggy Mane, Lawyer’s Wig, or Inky Cap.

See also Tom Volk’s page on Coprinus comatus

Diagnostic Description:

DNA studies show that Coprinus comatus is a fairly close relative of Agaricus and Lepiota.


Coprinus comatus is widely distributed in North America and is also found in Europe. Found in the Rocky Mountains.


Saprobic, growing alone, scattered, or in clusters, lines or fairy rings. Found in grassy areas, lawns, on soil, in wood chips, or on hard-packed ground such as along roadsides and other urban sites. Found in areas where the soil has been disturbed. Fruits during the spring,summer, and fall, typically

Look Alikes:

Other Coprinus species, which include Coprinus colosseus and Coprinopsis atramentaria. C. colosseus is found in the Pacific Northwest and has a stem up to 50 cm in length. C. atramentaria is a related inky cap that is similar looking, but has a smooth cap instead of scales, and also lacks the elongated shape.


Considered to be a delicious edible when young in the button stage. One of Clyde Christensen’s “Foolproof Four,” four species of mushrooms that can’t be confused with poisonous ones.


“Common Name: Shaggy Mane / Lawyer’s Wig / Inky Cap.

Coprinus comatus (O.F. Müll.) Pers., Tent. disp. meth. fung. (Lipsiae): 62 (1797)

Agaricus comatus O.F. Müll., Fl. Danic. 5: tab. 834 (1780)
Agaricus comatus O.F. Müll., Fl. Danic. 5: tab. 834 (1780) var. comatus
Agaricus comatus var. ovatus (Schaeff.) Fr., Syst. mycol. (Lundae) 1: 307 (1821)
Agaricus cylindricus Sowerby, Col. fig. Engl. Fung. Mushr. (London) 2: pl. 189 (1799)
Agaricus fimetarius Bolton, Hist. fung. Halifax (Huddersfield) 1: 44, pl. 44 (1788)
Agaricus ovatus Schaeff., Fung. Bavar. Palat. 1: tab. 7 (1762)
Coprinus comatus f. sphaerocephalus J.E. Lange [as ‘sphaerocephala’], Dansk bot. Ark. 9(no. 6): 93 (1938)
Coprinus comatus var. caprimammillatus Bogart, The Genus Coprinus in Washington and Adjacent Western States [Ph.D. dissertation] (Seattle): 55 (1975)
Coprinus comatus var. ovatus (Schaeff.) Quél., Enchir. fung. (Paris): 121 (1886)
Coprinus ovatus (Schaeff.) Fr., Epicr. syst. mycol. (Upsaliae): 242 (1838) [1836-1838]

Description authors: Tom Volk, Zach Duga (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, Erlon Bailey, IntoTheFlames, walt sturgeon, Joseph D. Cohen