Plant Guide > Mushrooms > Genus Coprinus > Coprinus Comatus

Coprinus Comatus

Coprinus comatus

Shaggy-mane; Horsetail; Maned Agaric

Cap or Pileus - Cylindrical or barrel-shaped; becoming bell-shaped or expanded, with split margins, when old. Colour of the buttons or young plants dark; but that of the older forms white, flecked with dark patches or scales. Surface shaggy. 1 1/2-3 inches long before expansion.

Stem or Stipe - White, smooth, hollow. 3-4 inches long.

Ring or Annulus - Slightly adherent, or movable in the young plant; later lying on the ground at the base of the stem, or wholly disappearing.

Gills or Lamellae - Crowded. White, then tinged with pink; finally black, and dripping an inky fluid.

Spores - Black, elliptical.

Flesh - Fragile, tender, digestible, with nutty flavour.

Time - Autumn.

Habitat - Loose, rich earth. By roadsides, in pastures, and in dumping grounds.

If one study the specimens of the shaggy-mane from the time it pushes its little brown head above the ground until, as a tall black umbrella, it melts away into inky blackness, he will find much that is beautiful and interesting.

A little brown button may be cut with a sharp knife throughout its length to show the unexpanded gills lying close to the part which is afterwards to become the stein.

An older button cut in the same way will show the gills separated from the stem and the outer cover of the cap at the lower end of the gills joined to the stem. A still older specimen will show the connection of the outer cover broken loose from the base of the gill and the torn part still remaining on the stem as a temporary collar.

The outer layer of brown threads which covers the button will be found to break as the threads within expand, and to remain in the older specimens on the surface as patches of brown threads.

Underlying these are broken white threads which in a younger stage, unbroken, formed a white cover under the brown. It is these loosely hanging threads which give the shaggy appearance to the cap of the mature plants and which have suggested the names of shaggy-mane, horsetails, and comatus (comatus, in Latin, meaning hairy).