Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis Atramentaria) Identification

Common Inkcap / All Year Round / Toxic

Description 

An easy to identify mushroom, they are very common and typically appear in large clumps or tufts on dead wood. When handled you will leak a black ink-like substance. This process is known as deliquescing. The spores are carried by this liquid ink into the watercourse looking for further sites to colonise.

They cause serious problems when consumed with alcohol hence the common name Tipplers Bane. There are also concerns around their carcinogenic qualities so they should be considered toxic.


Scientific Name

Coprinopsis Atramentaria


Common Names

Common Inkcap, Inky Caps, Tippler’s Bane.


Family

Psathyrellaceae


Habitat

They are saprotrophic on dead wood and are found in woodland, meadows and parks. They are quite common in urban areas and have been known to push their way up through tarmac.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

They are greyish/brown in colour, conical or bell shaped when young, they flatten out with age before almost melted into a black ink. The cap has tiny furrows running down the length which often split as the mushroom matures.

Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

Thin and quite short, normally grey in colour.

Donald Hobern from Copenhagen, Denmark, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

The gills are very crowded and free. When young they are pale in colour but very soon darken before turning into ink.

Jerzy Opioła, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Free Gills

Smell:

Mushroomy.


Spores:

Dark brown/black.


Known hazards

Best avoided, there are concerns around their carcinogenic qualities and they react badly with alcohol.

This reaction with alcohol can occur just by using aftershave or hand sanitiser within 48 hours of eating the mushrooms.


Potential lookalikes

The Glistening Inkcap (Coprinellus Micaceus) look very similar but has a fine coating a mica like crystals on the cap.

The Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus Comatus) could look similar but this tends to be a lot larger and its cap is covered with white scales giving it a shaggy appearance.


Extra Notes

Although not really edible, the mushrooms can be used to make a viable ink. They are boiled with water and cloves for around 30 minutes, the cloves acting as a mordant helping fix it to the cloth or paper.

 

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