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Shaggy Inkcap

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Spring Spring

This mushroom is absolutely delicious but has an extremely short shelf life. If you leave one on your table overnight you will come down to a black ink puddle in the morning.


Mushroom Type
Common Names Shaggy Inkcap (EN), Lawyer's Wig (EN), Judges Wig, Cap Inc Aflêr (CY), Czernidłak Kołpakowaty (PL), Gyapjas Tintagomba (HU)
Scientific Name Coprinus comatus
Season Start Apr
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 8-14
Average Cap width (CM) 4-6
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


4-6 cm. A finger shaped, long cylindrical cap. White with off-white/pale tan scales, can have a pink tinge. The whole cap deliquesces or melts very soon after maturity.


Gills white turning pink and then grey to black when they start to ‘melt’ from the edges. Crowded and free of the stem.


8-14 cm long, 0.5-1.4 cm diameter. White sometimes hollow, long, thin and with a slight ring that detaches easily. Slightly swollen base.


Small, slight not very long lasting.




Grows in grass by the sides of roads, lawns, flower beds, grassland and recently disturbed soil. Can be found individually or in large numbers.

Possible Confusion

A distinctive mushroom with only the Magpie Inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea) looking similar but the two can be separated by the Magpie Inkcap, pictured, having light scales on a dark background and the Shaggy Inkcap having a white background with white or slightly darker scales.

Spore Print

Blackish brown. Ellipsoid.

Taste / Smell

Very good when young. One of my favourites for creamy sauces and because it can found in large numbers. Should be cooked before consumption.


Very common.

Other Facts

One of these delicate mushrooms was reported as lifting a 75 by 60 centimetre paving slab 4 centimetres in 48 hours.
If you cook with these when the caps are on the turn, they will dye everything you cook with them black.
If the caps have started to open when you pick them you will have to eat them that day. Young ones may last 48 hours in the fridge if you are lucky. You can make younger ones last a bit longer in the fridge if you remove the stem before chilling; this seems to delay the transformation into ink.
You can also make some very good ink from them. To do this mix the inkcap ink with a little water and some cloves and heat it. This process will help fix the ink and stop it from fading or running when you use it.


30 comments for Shaggy Inkcap

  1. Tom sime says:

    A wonderful site. Please keep going

  2. Tony jones says:

    Just picked some today having them with my breakfasts taste lovely.

  3. Blair says:

    As a child I remember fields full of them. Amazing to see them in unspoilt areas

  4. Fitzgerald says:

    Really helpful thank you

  5. Alan Holt says:

    I have a field full of these but never sure if they were edible, now i have found this site and have just had some for breakfast and they were delicious

  6. Helen John says:

    A lovely surprise walking back from swimming today. Found loads of shaggies in the new planters installed outside Sainsburys in Sutton. Enjoying now fried with butter…mmm…

  7. Bob Halpin says:

    Excellent page. I’m in Toronto Canada and was introduced to these by the Italian family I married into. A couple of things I’ve learned: First, if you spot one don’t go tromping up to pick it. Be careful – you may accidentally crush young ones near it that are just emerging from the soil. They are about the size of the 1st section of your thumb, and delicate. So watch where you step. Next, these little ‘buds’ are fine to eat too. We fry those right alongside the mature ones. So if you are not going to be able to return and harvest them when they are mature, go ahead and pick them. My father-in-law often pickled them in oil with garlic and they were a treat in the winter. (No clue how he did that.) Last, I don’t know about them being in the same place year after year … over here they seem to play can-and-mouse with us and where we find lots one year we never seem to see any again there. We never know where we’ll see them! 🙁 But when we do – it doesn’t matter what we are doing or how well we’re dressed – we stop and pick ’em!


  8. Denise says:

    Clean, split and microwave until steaming immediately after picking, they then last for around a week in the fridge. They are naturally very watery so I dry them with paper tissues and keep an eye out for excess water daily.

  9. Tony Wild says:

    Very informative and helpful; thank you. I have been looking at these mushrooms growing in our garden for years and I have now discovered that these are “Shaggy Inkcaps.” However I am planning to attend a course before eating anything!

  10. Anne Marie Hawkins says:

    Saw one for the first time today and thought it looked like one of the very poisonous ones. On identifying it was surprised to find it is edible, but daren’t risk it!
    However, plan to return tomorrow, harvest it, leave it 24 hours and try to use the ink.

  11. Dave Carroll says:

    I have a variety of fungi growing in the garden and can’t identify some except for some shaggy ink caps I think. Could anyone help me please if I send photos?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      You can send photos to [email protected]. Please include photos of the cap, stem, gills and a mushroom in situ.

  12. Jennifer Long says:

    Found a whole lawn full of shaggy ink caps yesterday. Had a delicious lunch!!

  13. zarina shaikh says:

    thankyou very much for this excellent post. I want to use the ink and have collected a few ml in a jam jar. It is effectively very watery already. Do I need to add any further water? How long do I heat it with cloves for? Do I bring it to the boil and then simmer?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is best to reduce the liquid until it is rich and very dark.

  14. Emma Kendall-Marsden says:

    Thank you so much for such a comprehensive mushroom guide, in the past I was always put off by horror stories of how dangerous wild mushrooms were. Today I picked my first wild mushroom and using your guide I identified it as a Shaggy Inkcap. I fried it in butter and seasoned it with salt and pepper. It was delicious. My husband refused to try it and thinks I’m mad, but it’s more for me!

  15. Aby Vee says:

    I would love to try these!

  16. liz balharry says:

    i have these coming up every year on my gravel drive way under a very old and large sycamore. I love watching them change to ink and had no idea they were edible or you could make real ink – thank you so much for your guide

  17. April von Stauffenberg says:

    Are they dangerous though to eat, if you drink alcohol before or after, up to three days, i have read… or is that the common ink cap? Thanks so much for your help! I did eat two batches, both of them yummy, fried in the pan with garlic!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It is the Common Inkcap that can react with alcohol.

  18. Zita Tucker says:

    Went for a walk with a friend yesterday at our nearby woodlands & found groups of these. My friend send me this link to read asking me to read. Knowing it is safe, i will definitely go back to pick them up and will try to cook with egg omelette for my breakfast today.

    I also have lots and a variety of mushroom found around but not sure if they are all safe. Can I send these to your email & let me know please?

  19. Rex says:

    On a walk with my dog yesterday, a single tall cap caught my eye on the edge of a wooded area. I was wondering if it was there due to old dog ‘gifts’ to the earth… I do not plan on trying it.
    I will check if there are young ones (as mentioned by Bob Halpin) on our next walk just out of interest.

  20. Mark Ellerby says:

    The flesh has a lovely soft texture a bit like mozzarrella cheese. I ate one raw and it made my stomach feel a bit funny. Would definitely eat again but cook it first.

  21. Peter whiteley says:

    In a field near me, there are dozens of them showing now. Tomorrow, there shall be quite a few less!

  22. SYRINGA CAMP says:

    Thank you for this very informative article on the shaggy ink cap, and also for the one on the common ink cap. I feel confident now telling the difference! We get loads of shaggy ink caps in our garden this time of year and I’ve never felt quite sure enough to eat them. I will be picking some today for my lunch now.

  23. Dougwalker says:

    Very distinctive, very lovely- butter garlic parsley, and this year very early Eastern england 9/08/23, Doug

  24. Peter says:

    we just found a small patch of these on a woodland walk near our holiday cottage in Cumbria, is it possible to extract any of the spores to take home and try and introduce them into our garden in Somerset?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Always worth a try, I am forever trying to infect my garden by leaving older mushrooms on my lawn and around trees. You really need mushrooms from two different spots but even then the chances are very slim. Over the years, I have only got St Georges Mushrooms to grow out of thousands of attempts with various species.

  25. Pat Woker says:

    I have heard that these should not be consumed with alcohol – is that the case and I so why?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The common inkcap contains chemicals that will make you rather sick if alcohol is consumed 48 hours either side of consumption. The shaggy inkcap is not know to cause this reaction and is safe to consume whether drinking alcohol or not.

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