Shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) are a tasty edible mushroom that can be found growing wild in Pennsylvania during the fall season.
With their distinctive shaggy-looking caps and preference for lawns and grassy areas, shaggy manes are one of the most easily recognized mushrooms for beginning foragers.
Here is some key information on identifying, harvesting, and enjoying shaggy mane mushrooms in Pennsylvania:
Identifying Shaggy Mane Mushrooms
- Caps: The caps of shaggy mane mushrooms are oval or bell-shaped when young, expanding to around 5-12 cm wide. As they mature, the cap edges begin to deteriorate and unravel into shaggy, scale-like fragments that give the mushrooms their common name. The cap color starts out white or grayish before fading to brownish black and eventually black ink at full maturity.
- Stems: The stems are 6-15 cm tall and 0.5-1.5 cm thick. They are cylindrical and whitish, with a delicate ring around the upper portion. The base of the stem bruises reddish brown when handled.
- Gills: The gills start out pale pinkish white before turning black and deliquescing (dissolving) into an inky spore mass as the caps mature. This liquification of the gills helps distribute spores for reproduction.
- Spores: Shaggy mane spores are black in mass. Taking a spore print can help confirm identification.
- Habitat: In Pennsylvania, shaggy manes are most often found growing scattered or in groups on lawns, along gravel roads, in grassy meadows, and in nutrient-rich soil. They occasionally pop up near stumps or on decaying wood.
When and Where to Find Shaggy Manes in Pennsylvania
Shaggy mane mushrooms thrive in the cool, damp weather of autumn in Pennsylvania. Some of the best places to search include:
- Lawns, fields, parks, cemeteries, and other grassy areas. Especially look for places where the grass is mowed frequently.
- Along gravel roads, trail edges, utility right-of-ways, and railroad tracks.
- Meadows, pastures, and open brushy spaces.
- Near tree stumps and decaying logs.
Shaggy manes typically appear in Pennsylvania from late August through October, with the peak fruiting period in September and early October.
Make sure to obtain permission before foraging on private property.
Harvesting Shaggy Mane Mushrooms
When collecting shaggy manes, use a knife to cut the stem at ground level rather than pulling up the entire mushroom.
This avoids excessive damage to the surrounding mycelium underground so more mushrooms can continue to grow.
Look for young, fresh specimens where the caps are still fairly intact. Older mushrooms with fully expanded or highly deteriorated caps tend to get quite slimy and inky.
The best time to harvest is when the caps are just starting to show some unraveling at the edges.
Always be 100% certain of identification before consuming foraged mushrooms. When in doubt, throw it out!
Cooking and Storing Shaggy Manes
Shaggy mane mushrooms have a mild flavor and delicate, meaty texture. They are excellent sautéed in butter or olive oil and make a great addition to omelets, pasta, pizza, and stir fries.
To prepare shaggy manes, clean the mushrooms gently with a soft brush or cloth rather than washing to prevent waterlogging. Trim off the very base of the stems, which tend to be fibrous.
Shaggy manes are best eaten fresh the same day they are collected. They don’t store well for long due to the rapid maturation process.
To extend shelf life for 1-2 days, refrigerate loosely wrapped in paper towels or a cloth bag. Do not seal in plastic, which speeds deterioration.
Some ways to cook and enjoy fresh shaggy mane mushrooms include:
- Sautéed in olive oil or butter – great as a side dish or topping
- Added to eggs, omelets, quiches, and scrambled eggs
- In risottos, pasta dishes, pizza, soups, and stir fries
- Mixed into burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf
- Chopped and used raw in salads for texture
With their distinct appearance, culinary appeal, and abundance throughout Pennsylvania in the fall, shaggy mane mushrooms are a great edible species for beginner foragers to start with.
Follow proper identification precautions, harvest sustainably, and enjoy cooking with these flavorful fungi.
[Related Post: 10 Common Mushrooms In Pa:[Edible & Non-Edible]