I saw this strange fungus on the walking path last week, and wondered if it were a puffball type. My nephew saw the photo on Instagram and told me it looked like Shaggy Mane Fungus. I thought he might be joking, but Wikipedia gave me the straight scoop: It is indeed Shaggy Mane, a.k.a. Coprinus comatus. “This mushroom is unusual because it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after being picked or depositing spores…” It grows “in places which are often unexpected, such as green areas in towns.” The ones I saw were just up the bank from the creek. You can cook and eat the Shaggy Mane — I guess if you do so before it “dissolves itself.”
We are warned not to confuse it with the magpie fungus, Coprinopsis picacea, which is poisonous, and looks like this one, at right.
Or with the common inkcap fungus, Coprinopsis atramentaria, whose botanical name also starts with Coprin-, but whose form is nothing similar.
I’ll be interested to see what condition my specimens are in next time I meet them.