Shaggy Mane | Outside My Window


Shaggy mane mushrooms at Black Moshannon State Park, 11 Sept 2019 (photo by Kate St. John)

Last weekend my friend Debbie and I traveled to Williamsport for the annual Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) meeting. Along the way we stopped at Black Moshannon State Park where we found these mushrooms disintegrating near the parking lot. Mushrooms are a mystery to me. An expert at the meeting told us what they were.

Shaggy mane mushrooms, also called shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus), are a common mushroom in lawns and waste places. Their caps begin as white cylinders, turn shaggy and bell shaped, liquefy into black ink and drip from the edges, eventually disintegrating into an inky blob.

The shaggy manes at Black Moshannon were all dripping black ink so we had no idea they went through the life stages shown in the Wikimedia photo below.

Old and young shaggy mane mushrooms (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When they’re disintegrating shaggy manes look very unappetizing but according to Wikipedia they are edible when young. However they are frequently confused with a poisonous North American mushroom called the ‘vomiter’ mushroom Chlorophyllum molybdites. Enough said!

p.s. PSO‘s annual September meeting is a great opportunity to go birding in a new-to-you place in Pennsylvania. The outings are led by local birders who know the area well. I visited Montour Preserve and Ricketts Glen State Park last weekend. It was well worth the trip. Next year’s meeting will be in Lancaster County.