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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

29 October, 2009

Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus)

The Shaggy Inkcap is also familiarly known as the Lawyers Wig fungus for fairly obvious reasons!

Not far from our house is an open area of grass with a scattering of ornamental trees and every October these fungi appear, as if by magic. Every day for a couple of weeks a dozen 'spikes' arise from the ground, by evening they have reached this stage (as I have photographed it). Overnight it continues to develop and the cap separates from the stipe and then by morning the whole things starts to dissolve, the black spores making the liquid look like old fashioned Stephen's ink which some of you will remember from your school days. The liquid soaks into the ground taking the spores with it to start a new generation of the fungus.

Every day the old spikes can be seen dissolving as new spikes appear. This method of spore (or seed) distribution is quite unique to this family of fungi I believe.

It is a widespread species and you can find it on lawns, pasture, along footpaths, on areas of bare ground, even rubbish tips.