NZ Lifestyle Block

Shaggy ink cap


Coprinus comatus

Found: throughout NZ

This unusual fungus has a short shelf life, so if you find and gather it, be prepared to cook it quickly. Shaggy ink caps literally turn into a black gooey mess within hours of being picked. This can be delayed by putting them on ice, but you have to do it quickly. One tale goes, if you leave one on the kitchen bench overnight, you will see nothing but a black ink stain in the morning.

None of this may sound appetising, but the shaggy ink cap is a delectable edible mushroom when it's young and quite distinctiv­e looking. At first, they look like bright white cylinders rising from the ground, but they quickly open out to form bell-shaped caps. They have pure white, tall (about 15cm), thick stems, and a telltale ring around the upper portion that easily detaches. The white gills turn pink as the mushroom ages.

It grows on lawns, alongside roads, and in pastures from late summer through autumn.

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