What is a Shaggy Mane Mushroom?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The shaggy mane, also known as a lawyer's wig, is a type of edible mushroom found in many parts of the world. The mushroom has a very distinctive appearance along with a series of clear identifying features that make it popular with mushroom hunters. The shaggy mane can be used in a variety of cooked dishes, including soups and stews, because the fungus is quite sturdy. Some people have reported an adverse reaction when consuming shaggy manes with alcohol, so use caution.


Scientifically, the shaggy mane is known as Coprinus comatus. It is among a family of inky gilled mushrooms which have a dark spore print when young and degrade into ink as they age. Older shaggy manes can be readily identified by the appearance of the gills, which curl up and appear to be bleeding into ink. Unfortunately, a shaggy mane is not very tasty at this stage. The mushroom is most flavorful when consumed in the button stage, before the gills have begun to curl up.

In button stage, the shaggy mane can reach of height of almost three inches (six centimeters). The mushroom resembles a wig on a stand due to the scaly growth on the outside of the mushroom which gives it a hairy appearance. As the mushroom gets older, the gills will slowly curl further away from the stem and turn black, making identification of the mushroom very easy. For this reason, people who seek shaggy manes to eat will often keep a close eye on a patch of older mushrooms, looking for younger edible buttons to harvest.

The shaggy mane prefers disturbed soil and wood chips. The mushrooms often spring up out of lawns or appear along road sides. In addition to appearing all over North America, the shaggy mane can be found in many parts of Europe as well. The mushrooms tend to proliferate after a hard rain, and often grow in huge colonies.

The shaggy mane has a texture which many cooks say reminds them of fish. For this reason, the mushroom is sometimes used at vegetarian dinners to approximate the feel of fish, and can be steamed or baked after being marinated in a variety of sauces. Because of the high moisture content, the mushroom does not fare well in the saute pan, although it does well in soups, stews, and sauces. The flavor of the shaggy mane is delicate and woodslike, making it very popular with some diners.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Is it possible to grow shaggy mane mushrooms yourself? I grow morel mushrooms and chanterelles mushrooms, so I have the regular mushroom supplies, but I was wondering how hard it would be to grow shaggy manes.

Does anybody reading this grow shaggy mane mushrooms, and if so, can you tell me what kind of supplies I would need, or if it's even possible to grow them at home without too much effort?



I've never really been a fan of fresh mushrooms, but I do like dried mushrooms. Is it possible to eat dried shaggy mane mushrooms, or are they only good if you eat them fresh?

I have heard that they taste a little like chanterelle mushrooms, and I love those, so I think that I'd like shaggy mane mushrooms too, especially if I could find them dried.

Does anybody know if this is possible?


This is a weird-looking mushroom, let me tell you. When I was young one of my uncles gave me a mushroom field guide, so I rather got into mushroom identification. When it comes to shaggy mane mushrooms, it can be easy to mix them up with puffball mushrooms especially if they're young and not very tall yet.

In fact, I would recommend first time diners to enjoy these gourmet mushrooms with someone who knows what they're doing, since it's a little dangerous for any inexperienced person to go out finding mushrooms on their own.

Although most of the time buying shaggy mane mushrooms is pretty safe; I'd still say that it would be better to go with somebody else the first time, just in case.

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