Some species of mushrooms feel equally at home in urban and suburban areas as they do in grasslands and forests.
Shaggy mane mushrooms are one such species and are common in parks and gardens in many parts of the world.
Shaggy Mane Mushroom – All You Need To Know In 2023
In this article, you’ll find out how to identify Shaggy mane mushrooms and which look-alikes to avoid that too in 2023. So, let’s begin.
How to Identify Shaggy Mane Mushrooms?
One of the most distinctive things about shaggy manes is their conical caps with upturned scales that make them appear shaggy.
When young, their caps are cylindrical or elongated bullet-shaped with whitish-brown to reddish-brown upturned scales.
Their caps are generally 2–6 in (5–14 cm) tall and 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) wide, becoming bell-shaped as they mature.
The shaggy manes have fibrous hollow stems that are white to light tan in color with a partial veil.
If you break the stem near ground level and look inside, you should see a hollow tube leading up below the cap.
What does a Shaggy Mane Mushroom look like?
Shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) have conical caps with upturned hairy scales and are also known as hairy ink caps or lawyer’s wig mushrooms.
The latter is because the upturned scales on their caps resemble the layered curls of the wigs worn by lawyers in historic courtrooms.
They are considered by many to be one of the most easily identifiable mushrooms, along with giant puffballs, chicken of the woods, and morels.
These common edible mushrooms are often found in suburban areas, making them ideal mushrooms for beginning mushroom pickers.
Gills are another feature that can help you identify shaggy mane mushrooms.
When you open a young shaggy mane mushroom, you should see closely packed white gills.
As the mushrooms mature, the gills turn pink and then black and inky as they begin to liquefy, which brings us to the reason for their other name: hairy ink caps.
Shaggy manes are part of the Coprinus genus of mushrooms, also known as ink caps, whose appearance changes dramatically as they age.
When mature, these mushrooms self-digest or “deliquesce” and liquefy their caps and gills, creating a sticky black substance that drips to the ground.
The reason for this self-digestion is to help them disperse their spores since they have very close gills.
Where do Shaggy Mane mushrooms grow?
Shaggy mane mushrooms thrive in various habitats, and you’ll often find them in the summer and fall growing in suburban and urban parks, backyard gardens, and roadsides.
But you’ll also find them in rural pastures, open woodlands, and along country lanes and paths.
They can grow singly, but often appear in large numbers after a good rain and appear in groups in disturbed soil, grass, compost, wood chip piles, and even compacted soil.
Shaggy manes are native to North America and Europe and grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Today you’ll also find them in Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland, and in China, they cultivate shaggy mane mushrooms for culinary purposes.
Shaggy manes grow very fast. They appear after the rain, ripen and begin to digest automatically within 24 hours.
Are Shaggy Mane Mushrooms Edible?
Yes, shaggy mane mushrooms are edible when young and are considered by many to be a favorite gourmet mushroom.
Young, shaggy manes are white with a firm texture, and you should harvest them before their caps begin to bell-shape and start to turn black.
What does Shaggy Mane taste like?
Shaggy Mane mushrooms have a mild earthy flavor that, while subtle, is distinctive enough to give them a unique flavor.
People describe the texture of the shaggy mane as delicate and buttery.
Ingredients with intense flavors will tame shaggy manes, so they’re best when used in simple dishes like pasta or chicken. Another popular way to use young shaggy manes is in soups and broths.
Curiously, as the shaggy manes mature and begin to deliquesce, their flavor changes and become more intense and aromatic.
How to Clean Shaggy Mane Mushrooms?
Shaggy mane mushrooms are fragile and break easily, so be careful when collecting and handling them.
Bruised shaggy mane mushrooms start to get soft, dark, and wet quickly, and the already short window to use them will narrow further.
To clean up shaggy manes, first, carefully trim any damaged or bruised sections. Then wipe away any dirt with a paper towel or lightly brush them with a soft brush.
Some people also gently scrape the scales off the cap with a butter knife. But this is only necessary if the scale has a lot of dirt trapped under it.
Because they have a high water content and their caps are so delicate, it’s best not to wash the shaggy manes.
Can You Grow Shaggy Mane Mushrooms?
Yes, you can grow Shaggy mane mushrooms at home both indoors and outdoors, and they are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow.
Because you have to use them so soon after harvest, they are not grown commercially outside of China, where they are dried immediately after harvest to preserve them.
The best way to get fresh shaggy mane mushrooms is to grow them at home.
Hunting for shaggy manes carries the risk of misidentification or fungi containing toxic heavy metals.
How to Get Rid of Shaggy Mane Mushroom?
It’s not easy to get rid of hairy manes growing in your lawn or backyard, as the mushrooms you see are the fruiting bodies of an underground fungus.
If possible, try to make your peace with them, as they help break down dead and dying organic matter and benefit your garden’s ecosystem.
Also, they will be gone in a day or two as they grow so fast and within 24 hours they will self-digest into an inky black substance.
But, if you have shaggy mane mushrooms on your lawn and you don’t like the mess they make, there are a couple of ways to get rid of them.
First, make your garden conditions less attractive to fungi and reduce their food sources.
You can do this by:
- Improve soil drainage to lower moisture levels.
- Pruning trees and shrubs to increase light and air circulation.
- Removal of rotten branches and tree stumps.
- water as little as possible
- Remove excess straw from the lawn, as it is food for mushrooms
- pet waste cleanup
- Elimination of young fungi before they release their spores
- Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to speed up the breakdown of organic matter
But, if you’re in a hurry, try using vinegar, baking soda, or soapy water to kill them.
Shaggy mane mushrooms are a common sight in gardens around the world, and while they may look strange when inky, they are delicious gourmet mushrooms when young.
Although they are common and easy to identify, you are unlikely to find these delicious edible mushrooms fresh at farmers’ markets or stores because picking them activates self-digestion.
The secret to enjoying their subtle flavor is to pick them at the right time, handle them carefully and cook them as soon as possible.
One of the best ways to keep a supply of fresh hairy mane mushrooms is to grow your own.
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