Tuesday, November 3, 2009

They're melting!

This mushroom (Coprinopsis lagopus) emerges from the ground and releases it's spores in less than a day. It belongs to a group of mushrooms called Inky Caps because it eats itself as it releases those spores, creating an inky black substance that was once actually used as ink, so I've heard. Once it's done, all you're likely to find is a nice white stem and a blob of black goop. Cornell Mushroom Blog has a wonderful time lapse video of the whole process along with a detailed description of how and why Inky Caps digest themselves. The drawing above is of a group of Inky babies, which emerge looking a bit like grounded pussy willow catkins. As the cap opens the fuzz usually flakes off. I find these mushrooms fruiting in piles of wood chips at Howarth Park, created a couple of years ago when several stands of trees, near the park borders, were thinned, and turned into mulch which was left behind.

I think Coprinus lagopus is a lovely mushroom. I tried to bring a couple of the mature, but not yet deliquesced (melted) mushrooms home to draw, but within an hour they had changed from ethereal beauty to black goop so I've included a photo I took three years ago. At the bottom center of the photo you can see one of the mushrooms that's already turned to goo.

Cornell Mushroom Blog, The Dish on Deliquescence, Jonathan Landsman, July 1, 2008

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