How to Identify Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

By Errin Reaume
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The shaggy mane mushroom, also known as the Lawyer's Wig, is very common and are valued for its delicate flavor and fish like texture. The shaggy mane works well in soups, stews and sauces. Mushrooms should be cleaned with very little water and fingers or a soft brush. Shaggy mane mushrooms should be used the day of picking, as they deteriorate rapidly.

Hunt for shaggy mane mushrooms in their common locations and in the right seasons. These mushrooms grow abundantly throughout North America from spring through autumn. Shaggy mane mushrooms fruit on the ground in grass, fields, forest floors and rocky grounds with hard-packed soil.

Look for shaggy mane mushrooms' common characteristics. Mushrooms should be at least 4 inches tall and weigh several ounces. The mushroom cap is long, cylindrical with ruffled scales giving the shaggy appearance. Caps typically start white and fade to an inky black. The shaggy mane may or may not have a feathered ring around the stem.

Check underneath the cap for the shaggy mane's tightly packed black gills. The black ink is a symptom of self-digestion. Because the gills are so close together, the spores have a difficult time reaching air. The gills will melt and curl upward giving the gills a chance to loosen their spores. Mushrooms with ink are still edible but they should be eaten the same day they are picked, as the self-digestion process speeds up after removal from the ground.

Handle mushrooms carefully when picking. Rough handling of the cap can cause it to lose flavor and increase the speed of self-digestion. Rather than drying to eat later, which can also cause the shaggy mane to lose flavor, cook fresh in a soup, stew or saute and freeze for later usage.

About the Author

Errin Reaume started writing in 2005 for publications including college brochures, camera informational websites and vegetarian food blogs. Reaume is pursuing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Florida.