• cap is conic to bell-shaped with age, up to 6cm wide, dry, with light brown with furrow-lines radiating to the margins.
  • young specimens often have glistening particles on the cap.
  • gills are nearly free from the stem and white/grey when young.
  • the flesh and gills of older specimens liquefies into a black inky mass.
  • stem is silky white, hollow, smooth with no partial veil.
  • grows in tight clusters in grass or ground covering wood debris during cool, wet weather.
  • appears in spring, sumer and fall.
  • has a mild taste and odor; cook before eating.
  • tip: younger specimens which still have white gills are preferred.
  • tip: washing with water shortly after collecting and storing them wet in tupperware helps to prolong their lifespan.
  • warning: may cause an adverse reaction if consumed with alcohol consisting of hot flushing, nausea, headaches, and/or vomiting.
Pictures ()
<< previous picture  |  next picture >>
Field Notes
You can find Mica caps anywhere that wood is rotting away beneath the soil, including city lawns. And if you find a good patch of them, you can revisit the spot repeatedly as more pop up, typically after cooler rainy periods. They are frail, meager little mushrooms, but one of my favorites because they're fairly easy to identify and seem to have no troubles of the insect/wormy kind.

One of the features to watch for is the crowded way they grow together, with the stems arising from a common point and the caps really crowding against each other. If the caps check out (radially striate, etc), check for the youngest mushroom around - the gills should be white. Then check for the oldest mushroom around - it should be turning unmistakably black and inky as it withers away starting from the cap adges. If none of the mushrooms are that old, pay attention when you cook the mushrooms - if they don't turn the entire pan obviously black with ink, you've chosen a non-inky look-alike (discard!). Although there is conflicting information about whether Mica caps can be consumed with alcohol (may cause flushing, vomiting, not lethal), I would avoid it. I've added small amounts of wine to mica caps on the frying pan and experienced enough intestinal discomfort afterwards to remember the lesson; your own experience may vary.