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Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatu)

This four inch mushroom was seen growing at the beginning of December after a rainstorm. This mushroom, called the shaggy mane mushroom, grows in lawns and meadows. It’s clear where its name comes from by looking at the shaggy appearance of the cap (top bell-looking part). This particular mushroom should be edible when young, however; it’s always best practice to not eat wild mushrooms unless you are confident enough to bet your life on it. This one has an interesting habit of turning to black goo (auto digestion) very quickly (hours, not days) after being picked, so you probably won’t find it in a store.

Mushrooms reproduce by spores that form under the cap. When the spores land on moist surfaces, they will grow into a new fungal growth. The parts we see are usually just the reproductive organ. The “body” of the mushroom lives under the ground feeding on organic matter. These hyphae (fungal “roots”) are a network of filaments that harvest energy from organic matter in the soil. Even though they may look like plants, they are actually more closely related to humans - although this split occurred a very long time ago.

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