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Shaggy Mane

Common Names: Inky cap, Lawyer’s wig, Shaggy Mane

Although fragile in appearance, shaggy mane is highly adaptive growing in meadows, lawns and disturbed sites (e.g. construction sites and along highways) throughout temperate regions of the world. Despite its mild yet delicious flavour and adaptability to many substrates this mighty little stem and cap mushroom is not highly prized because it ‘melts’ very quickly into an inky puddle very shortly after fruiting. However, it is an easy mushroom to grow at home as a companion to many plants, especially those that like hot nitrogen rich top-soil. Cultivate it in your compost pile, lawn or garden beds where you can keep an eye on it to harvest and eat just after it emerges.


  • Culinary mushroom
  • Mushroom must be cooked prior to consuming

Natural Habitat:

  • Meadows, lawns, hard packed soils, enriched soils and woodchips
  • Can tolerate sunlight and grows well at the interface of shade and sunlight
  • NOTE: direct sunlight can speed up ‘melting’ so pay attention to your patch!

Cultivation difficulty:

  • Outdoors: Easy

Growing substrate:


  • Will grow on sawdust but fruits best on manure rich soils or compost mixtures (because it can tolerate high levels of ammonia)
  • Fruits well off of supplemented spent Oyster mushroom (Pleurortus) spawn and paper/pulp waste
  • Likes a range of decomposed substrates
  • Fertile lawns

Growing techniques:


Inoculation to fruiting time:


  • From 6 to 12 months depending on inoculation rate and site temperatures
  • Typically fruit in the fall when it is cool
  • Cap and stem with cap covering entire length of the stem when it emerges from the substrate
  • Develops relatively fast if the substrate is producing heat (like a compost pile)
  • Once the lower edge of the cap separates from the stem and spores are released the mushroom auto-digests in a matter of hours turning into a black inky puddle, hence the name Inky Cap

Harvest, storage and yields:

  • Easy to pull from the soil in groups just before or after sporulation (when the lower edge of the cap separates from the stem) before it begins to ‘melt’
  • Inspect your bed daily in the morning or in the late evening (with a flashlight)
  • Best to cook and eat right away but can be stored:
    • Refrigerated at 3-6C for just a day or two if dunked in water immediately after harvest (I was also told water with vinegar works well)
    • Dried and rehydrated
    • Cooked and frozen
  • Yield is generally quite low for a single patch (enough to add an accent to a meal or two) but once your bed is establish will produce for years

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