Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Coastal BC Plants: Shaggy Mane Mushroom

Wayne and I went for a quad ride last week.  We were searching for a steam donkey, but ended up missing the right (or left) turn. But any ride around Powell Lake is a good one. There's always something new to discover.

This trip it was a new kind of mushroom. It's only sprinkled lately, but it must have been enough to encourage the growth of a small patch of Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) mushrooms.

They weren't familiar, so I went back to the cabin and used The Savory Wild Mushroom by Margaret McKenny and revised by Daniel E. Stuntz (University of Washington Press, 1962, 1971) to figure it out.  This was a great guide book I found at the thrift store for $.50. It's still available in a newer paperback version at

Here's the description from the book.

Cap: white and gray covered with fluffy scales, standing erect like a closed umbrella on its handle, spreading with age, four to twelve inches in height; flesh white at first, then darkening.

Gills: white shading to pink, in flat folds against the stem, turning black with spores and melting into a black fluid.

Stem: white, hollow with small movable ring, slightly thicker at the base, four to ten inches in length.

When and where found: Spring or fall after rain; in the open, on the ground, in gravel by roadsides, near garbage dumps, or in decaying sawdust near old logging roads.

Remarks: A well-known, edible mushroom of good flavor and consistency if gathered when young. Easily distinguished from the similar inky cap by its height and fluffy scales.

Since I'm not absolutely positive in my identification, please do not use this post to determine whether or not this is an edible species. -- Margy


  1. Unless we get a bit more rain it will likely be a poor mushroom harvest this fall. Not that I'm a "picker", I don't one from t'other, so I'm not about to chance picking the non-edible kind!

  2. I'm so grateful! We climbed Blueberry Mountain and I saw these. I was going to have to do research.
    You are brilliant!!!!

  3. Mushrooms grown out in the woods, I tend to photograph them and not eat them. We have a giant mushroom growing under the Rhodo in the front yard from the constant watering as it has been so dry here.


  4. Better just take photos of it. Mushrooms should be research well, which one is edible or not...

  5. I tend to let friends better qualified than me go out and pick mushrooms for me (mind you saves me getting up at some unearthly hour!)In France you can take the mushrooms to a local pharmacy and they tell you whether they are edible or not xxx

  6. I haven't been able to find a link to a mushrooming society for Powell River, but there is one on the Lower Coast, and the festival is coming up on the 20th of October in Pender Harbour in the community hall. It's $3 to get in and you can find out more at (Sunshine Coast Mushroom Society web site).

    Members - memberships are $20/year individuals, $25 families - can go on group forays and there will be a very good one on the day before the festival, the 19th, with the festival's guest expert this year, Daniel Winkler.

    I've been a member of the Society for a year, and I have learned so much about mushrooming, through the forays and events, the lending library, and the Society's membership in the Vancouver Mycological Society - we have access to all of their newsletters and advance notice of events in the city.

    We mushroomed all day Sunday in parks on the lower coast, and enjoyed our first cauliflower mushroom of the season, found by our 12 year old daughter. We've also had a chanterelle appetizer.

    The pickings are small but there are many more than I expected if non-edibles are included making it still worthwhile to tromp about in the woods :)

    We found shaggy manes just like those last year at the end of the festival foray; Larry Evans (last year's expert) said they have to be cooked within 30 minutes after being harvested due to their internal structure; they decay extremely fast when picked.

    So come on down for the mushroom festival and find me and say hello, and bring your specimens for identification!

  7. Paul - I know how important mushroom picking is to people around here. Maybe we'll get some rain soon to help out.

    Jenn - Glad I could help. This was the first time I've seen this kind.

    Stephanie, Janel and Fran - I'm with you. I enjoy them when other people pick them, or when I buy them from the store.

    Laurie - Thanks for the info about the festival in Pender Harbour. I won't be able to make it down, but maybe some of my readers can. We do have some community classes here in Powell River I think.


  8. Unquestionably 100% Shaggy Manes! I was almost drooling. I've been eating them for over 50 years and when we miss out on them because we were away or something the fall just doesn't seem complete. To rub it in this year my son and daughter picked a basket full up Prince George way and emailed a picture just to make me drool more. They only grow along gravel roads (they love areas around mines) and on lawns. Pick them before the get to inky, scrape any gravel off or peel them if they are really dirty, then if you have lots boil them for 5 minutes first and let them drain, then fry them in butter until they get a golden hue. If you only have a few just fry them and the water will evaporate then add a bit of butter. The mushroom books will tell you that some people might get a slight reaction if they consume them with alcohol, but I've never seen it in our extended family that has been eating them for many years. Enjoy. Grizzly

  9. Good to know Grizzly. Wish I could have known before I passed them up. There was quite a little patch, but only in that one spot as far as I could tell. I bet they would have been yummy. - Margy


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy