Alcohol Inky, Inky Cap or Tippler's Bane, Coprinopsis atramentaria
(
formerly known as Coprinus atramentarius)
Psathyrellaceae or Psathyrella Family

Cluster of mushrooms

A small mushroom, a few inches tall. Cap bell-shaped, whitish or grayish, with striations and often tattered at the edges. Stalk thick, whitish or grayish. Gills crowded, pinkish when young, becoming black with age. As mushroom matures gills and cap turn dark and then liquefy, from the bottom up, into a black inky liquid that can actually be used as ink. It lives on dead roots around stumps, and pops up in dense clusters in the fall.

Known throughout North America and Europe. Occurs in Wildwood around suitable stumps.

The color change from pale to black, followed by liquefaction, is the most striking character, and best cue to its identification. Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) similarly dissolves itself, but that species is much larger and has a distinctive shape. Surprisingly they are only distantly relatred to each other..

Mushroom
Young gills

 The species is edible; however, it produces a toxin that interferes with the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase that we use to metabolize alcohol. Thus, consuming this mushroom and any alcoholic beverage within hours of each other can make the consumer very sick, accounting for some of the common names.

Mature gills
Population

 

Mature mushrooms

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