Shaggy Mane Mushrooms, Coprinus comatus
The shaggy fungi were growing all along the Little Miami bike trail. The cooler temperatures of the past couple of days coaxed them out, and they stood like little sentinels of the autumn season.
Shaggy mane mushrooms are edible, but I don't know how to cook them! I did find a recipe for Shaggy Mane Potato Leek Soup in the book, "Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares--The Love, Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms," by Greg A. Marley. Click here for the recipe in the online preview of this book (go to page 58). I just ordered the book...it looks interesting!
Shaggy mane mushrooms are part of Clyde Christensen's "Foolproof Four," which are four types of mushrooms that are edible, easy to find, and don't have dangerous look-alikes that can kill you! Apparently Mr. Christensen wrote the book "Common Edible Mushrooms" (1943) to turn "mycophobes" into mycophiles, and it worked. There is an entire section devoted to Christensen's Foolproof Four in Marley's book (click here, page 31). You can also find references to the Foolproof Four here. (If you're curious, the Foolproof Four are morels, puffballs, sulphur mushrooms, and shaggy manes.)
...and here we see where the genus (Coprinus) gets its common name, "inky caps." When the fruit matures, the gills undergo self-digestion and "melt" (deliquescence) from the bottom up forming an inky mess that allows the mushroom to release spores (click here for details on this process). Strangely enough, the inky black liquid really was used as ink for writing!