Cornell University

Shaggy Mane Time Lapse

Shaggy mane mushrooms are also known as Lawyer’s Wigs. They are white with a cylindrical cap 1-1/4 to 2 inches wide and 1-5/8 to 6 inches high. They get their name from the flat, white scales on the cap which makes them look shaggy. The stalk is white and hollow. This mushroom belongs to the group of mushrooms referred to as inky caps. They have self-digesting gills. As the mushrooms mature the caps dissolve into a black inky substance starting at the bottom edge and moving upwards. They almost look like they are melting. This disintegration is the way shaggy manes release their spores in order to reproduce. Shaggy mane “ink” was actually used for writing before regular ink was readily available.

Quicktime 5+ movie

Time lapse video by Dawn Dailey O’Brien

Shaggy manes are a favorite edible mushroom because they are easy to identify, quite tasty and often grow in groups so you can collect many at one time. But, as with any wild mushroom, do be careful to correctly identify this mushroom before eating it. Keep in mind you have to cook and eat the mushroom the same day you pick it, or it will degrade into a sloppy, inky mess — just as the time lapse movie shows! Cooking deactivates the enzyme responsible for the autodigestive process, so you can safely store cooked shaggy manes in the refrigerator for a short time.

I made this time lapse video of disintegrating shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) back in November of 2003 and am glad it is finally getting used somewhere. I can’t remember exactly how long it took in “real” time for the mushrooms to disintegrate but it was less than 24 hours!



3 Responses to “ Shaggy Mane Time Lapse ”


Most people don't pay much attention to fungi, which include things like mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews. Here at Cornell we think they're pretty fascinating. In fact, even the most disgusting foot diseases and moldy strawberries are dear to our hearts. We'd like to talk to you about fungi, so that like us, you too can tell gross stories at the dinner table. Afterwards, maybe you'll notice some things you would have overlooked before, and we think this could be good for the planet.

Kathie T. Hodge, Editor

Beneath Notice, our book of borescopic mycology.


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