Scientific name: Coprinus comatus
The Shaggy Mane mushroom is a very beautiful and very special species of mushroom. It grows in many continents across the earth and in nearly every state in the United States. A conspicuous mushroom coming up in conspicuous places.
For a very good guide to picking and using wild edible mushrooms, try out this book HERE!
For a good recipe with this mushroom, check out my Bok Choy Soup recipe!
Expand your foraging know how! By reading my post on How To Identify Chanterelle Mushrooms! If you have never tried picking wild edible plants, an easy one to start with is Lambsquarters! They are beautiful and delicious!
My experience with Shaggy Manes
In Oregon, I would be delighted every time I found one of these beauties! They would stand up out of the grass just begging to be picked. I never knew how good they were until one day I decided to try one. Forever more I was hooked and to this day it is one of my favorite edible mushrooms.
I never go looking for them. I normally find them when I’m driving down the road and happen to stumble upon one or a few. When I go picking for other mushrooms I normally find more than a few of these on the way. I pick all that I see for a flavorful edition to my mushroom basket.
I am amazed at the qualities that this mushroom has. Not only is it a fantastic edible mushroom. But it is also a useful ingredient in some very beautiful artwork. Being that it literally turns into black ink could not keep even the most somber mind from interest.
Materials for harvesting Shaggy Mane mushrooms
The tools required for the harvest of this mushroom are similar to any other mushroom harvesters tool kit.
- Sharp knife
- Brush (for cleaning them in the field)
Of course you may have other materials needed for a mushroom trip such as:
- Coat (in case it is cold)
- Boots (in case of rain)
- Hat (in case of rain or shine)
But all you really need is your knife, basket, brush, and that slick mind of yours!
Where do shaggy manes grow?
Shaggy manes are common all around the world! They grow in nearly every state in the united states.
They grow all over canada, europe, australia, and even japan.
The shaggy mane takes up residence in lawns and pastures primarily. I have even seen them growing out of gravel on a grassy side road.
How to identify Shaggy Mane mushrooms
They have a few characteristics that even the most novice mushroom picker couldn’t miss. Firstly they grow to a very distinct cone shape. There are not many mushrooms that have this sort of egg shaped conical cap that wraps so comfortably around the stem.
As you can see the shaggy mane on the right, the cap is closed and the margin (rim) of the cap is wrapped around the stem of the mushroom. The shaggy mane on the left however has began to mature and is beginning to turn into this black ink as I had mentioned above.
I like to get a good list out there of identifying characteristics so that you can take a screen shot and save it. And if you are better at remembering specific lists of details like I am then here you go.
- Grey cone shaped cap
- Shaggy tufts on the cap (i.e. Shaggy Mane)
- Growing out of grass, gravel, or bark chips
- Mushroom dissolving into very black ink
As you can see here, the cap of the shaggy mane mushroom slowly retracts upward to the tip. All the while, it is dissolving into a thick black ink, capable of making some very stunning artwork with.
I will show a series of photos of the progression of this liquification of the mushroom which is called “Deliquescing”.
A young, fresh, harvestable specimen. The firmness and crispness is notable and the gills have not yet begun to dissolve into ink. This is the best time to eat them right here.
Deliquescing more and more, this mushroom will dissolve completely into this black ink. Cap, gills and all and will leave only the thick white stem behind.
Above is a shaggy mane which has nearly completed its lifecycle by completely dissolving into ink.
This mushroom is inedible at this point and is only good for looking at. Or for you artistic ones, harvesting the ink for painting with.
How to harvest the shaggy mane
Harvest Shaggy manes when they are young, crisp, and have not opened up or began to dissolve in to ink.
The shaggy mane like other mushrooms, grows from an underground filament structure called “mycelium”. Like roots of a plant, mycelium is like the root structure of a mushroom. Mushrooms are fruiting bodies of this mycelium and grow directly from it.
You want to avoid disturbing the mycelium as best as you can. So carefully take a sharp knife and slice the mushroom off close to the ground. This will leave the mycelium undisturbed, and ensure that you don’t ruin your mushroom spot for following years.
Do shaggy manes grow back year after year?
Why yes they do! Their mycelial mat will remain in tact and will fruit again in following years. Not to mention, that black ink we talked about that is completely full of spores. Spores which act as the seeds of mushrooms will drop onto the ground. And if dropped onto a suitable habitat, will grow a new generation of mycelium.
How to cook with shaggy mane mushrooms
First and foremost after being harvested, shaggy mane mushrooms dissolve very quickly. They absolutely have to be cooked right away. If you leave them in the fridge for any length of time they will dissolve into ink.
Even letting the freshest shaggy manes sit in the refrigerator overnight will give you nothing but a container full of ink where you mushrooms used to be.
These mushrooms can be used in all manner of cooking. Sauté them in butter for a delectable treat. Add to soups and stews or make a cheesy shaggy mane risotto with them.
The sky is the limit and these mushrooms are a great overall ingredient.
How to use shaggy mane mushrooms for ink
Given that these special mushrooms dissolve into ink. You can use them like you would use any other ink. After you harvest them you can put them in a container and simply let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Open it up the next day and behold your mushrooms have turned into ink! This ink is able to be used as paint, makeup, or other artistic things you can think of.
Some people use the ink to paint beautiful pictures of shaggy manes! They are beautiful you should check one out!
Medicinal uses for shaggy manes
Shaggy manes are indeed medicinal. The uses of them may surprise you.
- Good for diabetes
They contain a natural form of insulin which helps to regulate blood sugar and naturally regulate insulin production in the body! How cool is that?
- Weight gain
Has been used in studies to aid in wait loss and metabolic regulation.
- Can help improve circulation
Used improve circulation and therefore aids in arterial health.
- Contains beta glucans, chrome, and Vanadium
These 3 compounds are powerhouses for immune support and to induce insulin production and regulation.
- Book (optional)
- Rain coat (optional)
- Hat (optional)
- Brush for cleaning mushrooms
- When going picking, find the proper habitat for the shaggy mane. Primarily, grass and pasture, rocky soil and occasionally on piles of wood chips.
- The best time to look is 2 or 3 days after a good solid rain that gets everything nice and saturated.
- After locating the mushrooms, use your sharp knife to slice them at the bottom of the stem.
- Gently place them in your basket.
- Take them home and use them immediately, or place them in the fridge for no longer than around 5 hours. They have to be used the same day you pick them or they will turn in to ink.
Gray, cone shaped cap which has shaggy growths on them.
Thick white stem.
Gills self digesting and deliquescing into black ink.
Consume only when young and fresh and have not began to liquify.
When it comes to picking shaggy manes, I have found that most of my spots have come by accident from me driving around and finding them on the side of the road. After that, you can always keep in mind the spots that they grow in your area.
You can pick some of the old ones and make a spore bath with them. A spore bath will help to reproduce them in larger numbers and to inoculate them onto your own property or somewhere closer to your home.
Shaggy manes absolutely have to be used in the same day that you pick them. Even sitting overnight in the fridge will lend you a container full of black ink.
The ink that you get from shaggy manes is useful as paint.