Coprinopsis lagopus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Coprinopsis lagopus Mushroom
Coprinopsis lagopus is a saprobic mushroom that grows solitarily or in groups. It commonly grows on wood chips, leaf litter, compost heaps, humus-rich soil, vegetable wastes, etc. It is widely distributed throughout the world.
Until 2001, the species was known as Coprinus lagopus; advances in the understanding of phylogenetic relationships between the various coprinoid species led to a major reorganization of that genus. It is a delicate and short-lived fungus, the fruit bodies lasting only a few hours before dissolving into a black ink – a process called deliquescence. The vague resemblance of the young fruit body to the paw of a white rabbit has earned this species the common name harefoot mushroom.
Other names: Foot Inkcap, Woolly Inkcap, Harefoot Mushroom.
Coprinopsis lagopus Identification
Saprobic, growing alone or gregariously (sometimes densely so) on decaying wood or on woody debris (sometimes appearing terrestrial) in forests or, rarely, urban settings; spring, summer, and fall (or in winter in California); widely distributed and common in North America.
Up to 4 cm across when mature and expanded; oval and tiny when young, expanding to broadly convex or bell-shaped and eventually more or less flat; gray to black; at first covered with a dense coating of silvery hairs (a universal veil) which break up into patches as the mushroom grows and may eventually disappear; the finely lined margin splitting as the gills dissolve.
Attached to the stem; crowded; pale at first, but soon gray, then blackish; deliquescing (turning to black "ink") or merely deteriorating and collapsing in dry weather.
Up to 2 cm long and .5 cm thick; equal; hollow; fragile; white; densely hairy at first (especially near the base), but sometimes nearly smooth by maturity.
Spore Print: Black or blackish.
In the early stages of development, when the caps are 'furry' like the feet of hares, these inkcaps could be confused with Coprinopsis nivea, the Snowy Inkcap, which grows on dung and occasionally on rotting straw.
Coprinopsis lagopus Bioactive Compounds
A β-glucan polysaccharide was isolated from the purified mycelial walls of C. lagopus. Methylation analysis revealed that the glucan contains β-1,3-linked glucose units with about 14% of the sugars having 1,6-linked branch points (Schaefer, 1977).
Mycelial extracts were shown to agglutinate erythrocytes of several animal species, including humans (Banerjee et al., 1982). Agglutination was partially inhibited nonspecifically by high concentrations of monosaccharides glucose, galactose, mannose, fucose, and rhamnose.
Coprinopsis lagopus Medicinal Properties
Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of C. lagopus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 100% and 90%, respectively (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
The sesquiterpenoid benzoquinone molecules lagopodins A (2-methyl-5- (1,2,2-trimethyl- 4-oxocyclopentyl)- 2,5-cyclohexadiene- 1,4-dione) and B (6-hydroxy-2-methyl-5- (1,2,2-trimethyl-4-oxocyclopentyl)- 2,5-cyclohexadiene-1,4-dione), isolated from C. lagopus, are active as antibiotics against Gram + bacteria (Bu’lock and Darbyshire, 1978).
Fungal metabolites lagopodins A and B from Coprinopsis lagopus
When R and R’ are H, its lagopodin A, when R=OH and R’=H, it's lagopodin B.
Coletto et al. (2000) also reported the mycelia and culture filtrate of C. lagopus to have activity against both Gram + and Gram – bacteria.
Coprinopsis lagopus Taxonomy & Etymology
The Hare'sfoot Inkcap was described scientifically in 1821 by the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries, who named it Agaricus lagopus. (Vast numbers of gilled fungi were dumped into the Agaricus genus in the early days of fungal taxonomy; most have since been moved to other genera leaving in the present-day Agaricus genus a much smaller number of gilled mushrooms that are sometimes referred to as the 'true mushrooms'.) Experts assert that this name encompasses a complex of many similar species.
This inkcap was renamed Coprinus lagopus by Fries just 17 years later, and it was referred to by this name by most professional mycologists and virtually all amateurs until 2001. That was 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. The Hare'sfoot Inkcap was moved into the genus Coprinopsis within the family Psathyrellaceae.
Synonyms of Coprinopsis lagopus include Agaricus lagopus Fr., Coprinus lagopus (Fr.) Fr., Coprinus lagopus var. lagopus (Fr.) Fr., and Coprinus lagopus f. macrospermus Romagn.
The generic name Coprinopsis indicates that this mushrooms genus is similar to the genus Coprinus, which means 'living on dung' - that's true of quite a few of the inkcaps and particularly apt for this species. The specific epithet lagopus comes from ancient Greek words, lagos meaning a hare and pous meaning foot - hence also the common name.
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