April 26, 2021
Good afternoon team,
This week’s mushroom is Coprinellus micaceus, commonly known as the Mica Cap. I’ve found these mushrooms fruiting several times the past couple weeks and the specimens attached were found on 4/14/2021 in Shakespeare’s Garden. Initially, I was excited because I thought these were the first terrestrial mushrooms I found this spring, but it turns out that C. micaceus is saprobic – consumes dead organic material (dead wood) – and these were growing from dead wood just underneath the soil.
C. micaceus is a common species that has been found on the six major continents and fruits spring through fall. Typically, in Eastern North America it is one of the first mushrooms to fruit in the spring and always grows in clusters. The term “mica cap” comes from shiny granules on the cap of young mushrooms that are remnants of the mushroom’s universal veil – a membranous tissue that envelops immature mushrooms. Another interesting feature is that upon reaching maturity, the mushrooms begin to deliquesce – the act of turning from a solid to a liquid – and leave behind gooey black liquid teeming with their spores. You can see this process occurring in the photos.
In various studies it has been noted that C. micaceus possesses antimicrobial, antitumor, and antioxidant properties. The mushrooms are edible but begin to deliquesce as soon as an hour after harvesting, so you need to cook them almost immediately to deactivate their auto-digestion process. There are lots of little brown mushrooms (LBMs) that aren’t edible so I wouldn’t bother messing around with these dudes. I kept one in a container to take a spore print, forgot about it, and then when I opened the container a couple of days later it had deliquesced and smelled exactly like fish. Interesting.
Have a spectacular week,