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Life Cycle of the Ink Cap Mushroom

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Fascinated by the inky substance produced by these mushrooms, I wandered through their moist world to capture their various stages of growth and deterioration. These are ink cap mushrooms; coprinus comatus (for the shaggy-looking ones) or coprinus atramentarius (for the smoother-looking ones).

They are edible, but be cautious because they do not interact well with alcohol. The best time to pick them is before they begin opening their gills and secreting the ink. If these interest you at all to eat, then you must do so within hours of picking because they will continue to degrade even after picked. Alcohol should not be consumed within 48-72 hours before and after eating. Doing so causes vomiting, stomach irritation, reddening of face, agitation, and palpitations (and I’m sure other symptoms). Flavor is bland, from what I’ve read. Frankly, I don’t know why I’d eat them when there are friendlier mushrooms out there. But I loved watching them curl up on themselves and turn into an ink-like substance.

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