Coprinellus Micaceus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Coprinellus Micaceus Mushroom
Coprinellus Micaceus is a common and beautiful mushroom. This fungus is widely distributed in North America. It grows in clusters on decaying wood-though the wood may be buried, causing the mushrooms to look terrestrial. It can be distinguished from similar coprinoid mushrooms by the fine, mica-like granules that adorn the fresh caps (though rain will frequently wash the granules away). It is variable in color, but typically some version of honey brown or amber.
This mushroom is especially prolific in spring, often fruiting on stumps or roots of dead trees. (You could say that this mushroom marks the graves of dead trees.) The roots are buried, so it appears to be growing on the grass. Unfortunately, dirt clings to them and, because they are so small and densely clustered, are a chore to clean. They're easiest to deal with and best to eat when very young.
Other names: Mica Inkcap, Glistening Inkcap, Brownie mushroom, Coprin micacé (French), Glimmer-Tintling (German), Gewone glimmerinktzwam (Dutch).
Coprinellus Micaceus Identification
Saprobic, growing in clusters on decaying wood (the wood may be buried, causing the mushrooms to appear terrestrial); spring, summer, and fall (sometimes in winter); frequently urban, but also found in woods; widely distributed in North America.
Cap: 2-5 cm, oval when young, expanding to broadly convex or bell-shaped, sometimes with a curled up and/or tattered margin; honey brown, tawny, amber, or sometimes paler; becoming paler with age, especially towards the margin; buttons covered with mica-like granules which frequently wash off with rain or dew; the margin lined or grooved, usually halfway towards the center or more.
Attached to the stem or free from it; pale, becoming brown, then black; deliquescing (turning to black "ink") but usually not completely; close or crowded.
2-8 cm long; 3-6 mm thick; equal; smooth to very finely hairy or granulated; white; fibrous; hollow.
White to pale throughout; thin; soft.
Spore Print: Black.
Coprinellus Micaceus Medicinal Properties
Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of C. micaceus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 70% and 80%, respectively (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
The antioxidant activity of cultured liquid, mycelial extract and biomass suspension from cultures of C. micaceus have been shown to have antioxidative potential to inhibit the reaction of free-radical peroxide oxidation of lipids in rat brain homogenate (Badalyan, 2003).
The antimicrobial activity of various species of the genus Coprinus, including 2 strains of C. micaceus (VKM F-2945 and VKM F-2946) were evaluated against Bacillus subtilis AONN 6633, B. mycoides 537, B. pumilis NCTC 8241, Leuconostoc mesenteroides VKPM B-4177, Micrococcus luteus NCTC 8340, Staphylococcus aureus FDA 209P, INA 00761, INA 00762, Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, Comamonas terrigena ATCC 8461, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853, Aspergillus niger INA 00760, Saccharomyces cerevisiae RIA 259, and Candida albicans INA 00763 (Efremenkova 2003).
The compound micaceol (described above) has demonstrated modest anti-bacterial activity against Corynebacterium xerosis and Staphylococcus aureus, with minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 82.35 and 146 µg/mL, respectively (Zahid et al., 2006).
Coprinellus Micaceus Taxonomy
The Glistening Inkcap was first described scientifically in 1786 by Jean Baptiste Francois Pierre Bulliard, who gave it the scientific name Agaricus micaceus.
The great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries later renamed this species as Coprinus micaceus. It was known by that name until 2001 when, as a result of molecular (DNA) analysis, the Coprinus genus was shown to contain groups of fungi with only distant relationships to one another, and the earlier Coprinus group was dismantled with the Glistening Inkcap being moved into the genus Coprinellus.
Synonyms of Coprinellus micaceus include Agaricus micaceus Bull., and Coprinus micaceus (Bull.) Fr.
Coprinellus Micaceus Look-Alikes
There are many brownish inky caps out there, but the habitat and morphology of C. micaceus easily separate it from look-alikes.
Its growth on wood readily distinguishes it from the many inky caps grow on manure, straw, and similar nitrogen-rich habitats (unless C. micaceus is being difficult and growing from buried wood in a manured lawn).
Its medium size and clustered growth also eliminate many small (less than 3cm across when mature) or solitary species. The mushroom most similar to C. micaceus is probably Coprinopsis atramentaria. However, that mushroom is larger, darker brown, and lacks the mica-like granules.
Coprinellus Micaceus Etymology
The generic name Coprinellus indicates that this mushrooms genus appears to be (or was thought to be) similar to fungi in the genus Coprinus, which means 'living on dung' - that's true of quite a few of the inkcaps but not particularly apt for this and several other Coprinellus species. The suffix -ellus indicates fungi that produce rather smaller fruitbodies than those of Coprinus species.
The specific epithet micaceus means 'similar to grains of salt (or mica)' and refers to the tiny granules (veil fragments) that glisten like specks of mica on the surfaces of immature caps. In wet weather, these granules are sometimes washed away so that the surface's mature caps become entirely smooth rather than granular.
Common names change with time and location. In America, the terms Inky Cap or Inkcap are most commonly used, while in many older field guides published in Britain you are likely to see Ink Cap or Ink-cap rather than Inkcap.
Coprinellus Micaceus Cooking Notes
The Mica Cap is considered an edible mushroom, although it does not have much flavor. You should collect only specimens that have not yet begun to liquefy. Mica caps must be cooked and eaten almost immediately after collecting as they will begin to deliquesce or dissolve into an inky black spore filled liquid within 1 to 3 hours. Cooking halts the process of auto-digestion (enzymatic process). High in potassium.
Recipe: Mica Cap Cookies
3 medium-sized ripe bananas
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground allspice
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t salt
3/4 C chopped raw mica caps, cleaned, dark gills cut off
1-1/2 C rolled oats
½-3/4 C fine-grain oat bran
3/4- 1 C coarsely ground mixed dry fruit (mix is apples, figs, dates, and a few raisins)
3/4 C chopped walnuts
How to cook
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two cookie sheets. Coarsely grind the dry fruit in a meat grinder and set aside.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Use your hands to work in the oil, vanilla, spices, ground fruit, nuts, and mushrooms.
Add the rolled oats and ½ cup of the oat bran. Work the dough and continue sprinkling oat bran in until the dough is stiff enough to stand on its own. (Remember, mushrooms release moisture as they cook so the cookies will loosen as they bake.)
Use a teaspoonful of dough for each cookie - five across and seven rows down on a standard cookie sheet - and bake for 15-18 minutes. Store in a tightly-closed container in the refrigerator.
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