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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!

04 November, 2016

Coprinellus disseminatus: the fairy inkcap

Were you ever told that fairies live under toadstools? Obviously the are no such things as fairies surely? Well the scientists at the Mycological Society decided to name this species the fairy inkcap (Coprinellus disseminatus), or fairies bonnets, so what evidence did they have that fairies really wore these fungi as bonnets? It is a lovely thought that harden, factual based researchers could put all that to one side to indulge in a bit of childhood romance!
So enough of the fantasy what of reality? Firstly, this is a widespread and common species found on the rotting wood, usually stumps, of dead broadleaf trees. It almost always grows in a cluster or troop. Indeed there are often so many of them my field guide describes them as a swarm rather than a troop. The caps are slightly conical rather than domed and they have grooves on the upper surface and gills below. Being inkcaps they are only in pristine condition for a short time as the caps quickly start to dissolve and wither away.
They can be found from spring through until the autumn but are more common later in the year. I do not know if they are edible but as they start to decompose very quickly the chances of finding them in perfect condition suitable for picking are pretty remote so I would not plan on having them for breakfast tomorrow, leave them for the fairies to wear.
Coprinellus disseminatus: the fairy inkcap