Coprinopsis atramentaria

Coprinopsis atramentaria

The Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis atramentaria) or Inky Cap, previously known as Coprinus atramentarius, is the second best known Ink cap and previous member of the genus Coprinus after C. comatus. The specific name derives from atramentum, Latin for "ink".

It is a widespread fungus and eaten, though it is poisonous when consumed with alcohol - hence another common name, Tippler's Bane.

The black liquid that this mushroom releases after being picked was once used as ink.


The greyish or brownish grey cap is initially bell-shaped, is furrowed and later splits. It later flattens before melting. The very crowded gills are whitish at first but rapidly turn black and easily deliquesce. The short stem is grey.

Distribution and habitat

Like many ink caps Coprinopsis atramentaria grows in tufts. It is commonly associated with buried wood and is found in grassland, meadows, disturbed ground, and open terrain in autumn. It occurs across the Northern Hemisphere, but has also been found in Australia.


Consumed with alcohol, Coprinopsis atramentaria is toxic. Symptoms include facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise agitation and palpitations and arise 20 minutes to 2 hours after consumption. The fungus contains coprine, which blocks the action of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, allowing the buildup of acetaldehyde in the body. Acetaldehyde is an intermediate metabolite of ethanol and is responsible for most symptoms of a hangover.

Although very unpleasant, the syndrome has not been associated with any fatalities. The symptoms can occur if even a small amount of alcohol is consumed up to 3 days after eating the mushrooms and continue for over a week.

Coprine has been found to have mutagenic and gonadotoxic effects on animals, causing testicular lesions. For this reason it may not be a good idea to consume this species.


  • North, Pamela (1967). Poisonous Plants and Fungi in colour. Blandford Press & Pharmacological Society of Great Britain.
  • Nilsson, S. & Persson, O. (1977) Fungi of Northern Europe 1: Larger Fungi (Excluding Gill Fungi). Penguin Books.
  • Toxicity, Mushroom - Disulfiramlike Toxins

External links

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