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Parasola sp.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Subkingdom: Dikarya
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Subphylum: Agaricomycotina
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Psathyrellaceae
Vilgalys, Moncalvo & Redhead
Type genus
(Fr.) Quél.


The Psathyrellaceae is a family of dark-spored agarics that generally have rather soft, fragile fruiting bodies, and are characterized by black or dark brown, rarely reddish, or even pastel colored spore prints. About 50% of the species produce fruiting bodies that dissolve into ink-like ooze when the spores are mature via self digestion (autodigestion). Prior to phylogenetic research based upon DNA comparisons, most of the species that autodigested were previously classified in another family called the Coprinaceae that contained all of the inky cap mushrooms. The reclassification took place because the type species of Coprinus, Coprinus comatus, and a few other species were found to belong to another family, the Agaricaceae. The former group of old Coprinus was split between two families, and the name "Coprinaceae" became a synonym of the Agaricaceae in its 21st century phylogenetic redefinition. Note that in the 1800s and early 1900s the family name Agaricaceae had far broader application, while in the late 1900s it had a narrower application. The family name Psathyrellaceae[1] is based upon the subfamily name Psathyrelloideae, that had been classified in the Coprinaceae. The type genus, Psathyrella consists of species that produce fruitbodies do not liquify via autodigestion. Currently Psathyrella is a polyphyletic genus that will be further fragmented and reclassified. Lacrymaria is another genus that does not autodigest its fruitbodies. It is characterized by rough basidiospores and lamellar edges that exude beads of clear liquid when in prime condition, hence the Latin reference, 'lacrym-" to crying (tears).

Most Psathyrellaceae basidiospores have a germ pore, and the pigment in the spore walls bleaches in concentrated sulfuric acid, in contrast with another phylogenetically unrelated dark-spored genus, Panaeolus. Psathyrellaceae are saprotrophs or rarely mycoparasites on other agarics (e.g. Psathyrella epimyces). They often occur in nitrogen rich habitats such as muck soils, dung, wet soft decayed wood, lawns, garden soils. The peculiar genus Mythicomyces, so named because it combines features characterizing several traditional agaric families, has proven to be a phylogenetically basal genus to the other Psathyrellaceae[2].


The Inky Cap genera Coprinellus, Coprinopsis and Parasola

Species in the genera Coprinellus, Coprinopsis and Parasola were until recently classified in the genus Coprinus, or in the case of a few Coprinellus species, in Pseudocoprinus. Based on molecular data, the genus Coprinus was divided, with these 3 genera removed to the family Psathyrellaceae. [1].


Coprinellus micaceus, the glistening ink cap

Coprinus micaceus.JPG

Coprinellus micaceus grows in tufts and its dimensions are smaller than those of the two preceding species. Its very striate cap has an ochraceous colour which makes it easily identifiable. Its summit carries the fine sparkling granules which earned it its common and scientific names.

French: Coprin micacé, Dutch: Gewone glimmerinktzwam

Coprinellus disseminatus

Furfooz 10 Luc Viatour.JPG

Coprinellus disseminatus had been placed in its own genus, Pseudocoprinus because it looked like a Coprinus (in the traditional sense) but it did not autodigest completely.

Coprinopsis atramentaria, the common ink cap

Coprinus atramentarius0.jpg

Like many ink caps Coprinopsis atramentaria grows in tufts. It is associated with buried wood and is found in meadows, disturbed ground, and open terrain. It contains the poison coprine that mimics disulfiram caused symptoms when alcohol is consumed.

Coprinopsis cinerea

Coprinopsis cinerea is an inky cap mushroom. With Schizophyllum commune it is one of two Basidiomycete fungi that are commonly used in research as a model organism [2]. Its genome has been sequenced entirely by the Broad Institute at MIT [3]. Work is ongoing to complete the annotation of its genome and characterize its genes [4] by researchers at Duke University, University of North Carolina, Southeast Missouri State University, and Indiana University.

Coprinopsis picacea, the magpie fungus


Unlike the others, Coprinopsis picacea is generally solitary. Its blackish brown cap is covered with a white veil which cracks apart to leave white patches. It has an unpleasant smell of bitumen or indole.

French: Coprin blanc et noir, German: Spechttintling


  1. ^ Redhead SA, Vilgalys R, Moncalvo J-M,Johnson J & Hopple, JS Jr. Coprinus Pers. and the disposition of Coprinus species sensu lato. Taxon 50(1): 203-241. 2001
  2. ^ Matheny, P.B., et al. (2007 [2006]). "Major clades of Agaricales: a multilocus phylogenetic overview". Mycologia 98 (6): 982–995. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.6.982.  

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