Quick facts

Common names: common inkcap, tippler’s bane

Scientific name: Coprinopsis atramentaria

Family: Psathyrellaceae

Fruiting season: spring to early winter after rain

Habitat: dead and decaying wood

What does common inkcap look like?

Common inkcap fungus grows in tufts from buried decaying wood, usually appearing after rain. It can be up to 17cm tall, with a conical cap and shaggy edge which often drips an inky liquid.

Cap: fawn-grey, egg-shaped, and mostly smooth at first. Develops into a conical cap, 3–7cm in diameter, grooved and often split at the edges, eventually turning black.

Gills/spores: white at first, then brown and then black as the gills ‘autodigest’ into a thick inky liquid which drips from the edges of the cap. The spores are of an elliptical shape and its spore print is black.

Stipe (stalk): hollow white stem with reddish-brown fibres called fibrils.

Not to be confused with: glistening inkcap (Coprinus micaceus), which is smaller and redder when young.

Common inkcap mushroom pair on garden lawn

Credit: Pjrnature / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to find common inkcap 

Common inkcap is widespread in the UK. It  grows in pastures, parks and gardens, and on tree stumps and pavements; in fact wherever there is buried wood.

Uses of common inkcap

Historically common inkcap was used to make ink for important documents. It would guard against forgery as the spores could be detected under a microscope.

Did you know?

It is also known as ‘tippler’s bane’ because it is poisonous if alcohol is consumed up to three days before and up to three days after eating it, causing nausea and hot flushes.