Shaggy Inkcap

Shaggy Inkcap ©Amy Lewis

Shaggy Inkcap

Shaggy Inkcap ©Tom Hibbert

Shaggy inkcap

Scientific name: Coprinus comatus
As its name suggests, the shaggy inkcap, or 'Lawyer's Wig', has a woolly, scaly surface to its bell-shaped toadstools. It is very common and can be seen at the road side, in parklands and even popping up in lawns.

Species information

Statistics

Cap diameter: 5-15cm
Stem height: 10-30cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to November

About

The shaggy inkcap is an unmistakable fungus - its tall, white, shaggy cap providing this name and also others, such as 'Lawyer's wig' and 'Shaggy mane'. It is widespread and common on roadside verges, parkland, grassland and gardens, growing in small groups. It is edible when young. Fungi belong to their own kingdom and get their nutrients and energy from organic matter, rather than photosynthesis like plants. It is often just the fruiting bodies, or 'mushrooms', that are visible to us, arising from an unseen network of tiny filaments called 'hyphae'. These fruiting bodies produce spores for reproduction, although fungi can also reproduce asexually by fragmentation.

How to identify

The shaggy inkcap displays a tall, narrow, cylindrical cap that is white and very 'shaggy' with 'scales' over its surface. The cap gradually opens out to a bell shape. The gills are very crowded; they are white at first, then turn pink and eventually black, dissolving from the margin of the cap until it is almost entirely gone. The shaggy inkcap has a tall, smooth, white stem with a moveable ring.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Similar to the shaggy inkcap, the snowy inkcap (Coprinus niveus) is much smaller and can be found growing in pastures on horse or cow dung.

How people can help

Fungi play an important role within our ecosystems, helping to recycle nutrients from dead or decaying organic matter, and providing food and shelter for different animals. The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, including fungi: you can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member. Our gardens are also a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside. Try leaving log piles and dead wood to help fungi and the wildlife that depends on it. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS.