Coprinus comatus benefits and side effects

Coprinus comatus
Photo Credit: Canva

Coprinus comatus (Shaggy mane): Quick look

  • Coprinus comatus is a fungus belonging to Basidiomycota.
  • It is an edible mushroom.
  • Commonly seen on lawns, roadsides, and waste areas. 
  • Coprinus comatus shows great antioxidant activity, hence possibly preventing oxidative stress and cell damage.
  • As it has a short life span, therefore it is eaten soon after being collected.

Coprinus comatus is a fungus commonly seen on lawns, roadsides, and waste areas. It is an edible mushroom with a cylindrical white cap. It is best to eat just after an hour of being picked as it turns black and dissolves itself in the matter. This fungus is capable of killing and digesting the nematode (Panagrellus redivivus and Meloidogyne arenaria species) hence also known as nematophagous fungus. It is mainly found in Europe and North America from June to November (2)

Classification of Coprinus comatus 

Kingdom Fungi
Division Basidiomycota
Class  Agaricomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Agaricaceae
Genus Coprinus
Species C. comatus


Coprinus comatus Appearance
Photo Credit: Canva

The young fruit body appears first as white and cylindrical, then appears bell-shaped.


White-colored caps are covered with shaggy scales, at the apex, it is pale brown. Cylindrical in shape 4-8 cm in width and 6-20 cm in height.


Beneath the cap, gills are present which are first white, then pink, then turn black filled with spores. Gills are free and deliquescent. Height up to 2-6 inches.


soft white flesh with a mild taste.


The stem is smooth and white, 5-20 cm long, and 1-2 cm thick. Separated from the cap by a fiber strand.


There is no distinctive odor of shaggy mushrooms.


Elliptical, smooth, and 9 – 13 X 7- 9 μ in size.

Spore print

The spore print is black to brown.


Green area, widely in grasslands and meadows.

NOTECoprinus comatus looks similar to magpie fungus, Chlorophyllum molybdites mushroom, and Coprinopsis atramentaria mushroom which is a poisonous fungus. Coprinopsis atramentaria induces coprin poisoning when consumed with alcohol. So do not confuse Coprinus comatus with these fungi/mushrooms while collecting for eating or it may lead to mushroom poisoning.

Common name

  •         Shaggy ink cap
  •         Lawyer’s wig
  •         Shaggy mane
  •         Chicken drumstick mushroom


Agaricus cylindrius Schaeff.(1774)

Agaricus comatus O.F.mull.(1780)

Agaricus vaillantii J.F.Gmel.(1792)

Bioactive compound

There are many bioactive compounds present in the extract of Coprinus comatus. Like flavonoids, polyphenols, terpenoids, saponins, etc. The major amino acids glutamic acid 441.6 mg/ 100 g of dry weight and alanine 222.8 mg / 100 g of dry weight are found in the extract of Coprinus comatus. Fatty acids like polyunsaturated fatty acid which is approx 66.01%, saturated fatty acids at 18.72%, and monounsaturated fatty acids at 15.27% (2) are also found in the mushroom.

Nutritional value

Every 100 grams of mushroom contains

Carbohydrates 55-75 gm
Protein 10-30 gm
Fat 1-5 gm
Fibre (water insoluble) 32.8 ±4.2 %
Fibre (water soluble) 1.79 ± 1.1 %

Per 100 gm of the dry weight of shaggy mushroom gives 368.1 – 525 kcal of energy (2).

Coprinus comatus Medicinal benefits

Coprinus comatus has been used as an antidiabetic food in China. The bioactive compound of Coprinus comatus contains polysaccharides, proteins, alkaloids, terpenoids, sterols, and phenolic elements which show various benefits for health (1). Therefore it is characterized as a functional food. It can be used as a nutraceutical, and raw material for medical preparation (2).

This mushroom is effective against blood glucose levels (8).

Coprinus comatus benefits

Coprinus comatus mushroom shows antitumor and antiviral effects. It can modulate immune activity.

1. May acts as Anti-tumorous

Anti-tumorous compounds are found in the extract of mushrooms that may show activity against breast cancer. These compounds altered the viability and proliferation ability of cancerous cells.

The ethyl acetate extract of Coprinus comatus shows an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of androgen-sensitive human prostate adenocarcinoma cells LNCaP (2). it will inhibit the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level by 77 % (3).

2. Possible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

This mushroom may act as a great antioxidant, preventing oxidative stress and cell damage. It may reduce the inflammation caused due to alcohol consumption and other inflammatory diseases (based on a study on animal models) (1).

Polysaccharide of  Coprinus comatus helps in weakening the level of interleukin 6 (IL-6) and induces the activity of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) this indicates that it may help in reducing the inflammatory effects that caused by alcohol (2).

3. May lower blood sugar level / hypoglycemic effect

Research on diabetic mice demonstrated that Coprinus comatus may reduce the blood sugar level. The Polysaccharide of  Coprinus comatus inhibits nonenzymatic glycosylation (NEG) and reduces the blood glucose level. It also inhibits the α- amylase activity to reduce the glucose level.

In easy words, a compound named comatin, isolated from Coprinus comatus shows antidiabetic activity (4).

4. May enhance insulin biosynthesis

Coprinus comatus contains alkaloids that enhance the flow of Glucagon-like peptide -1 (GLP-1) hormone and accelerate the phosphatidylinositol (PI) kinase (PI-3K) activity resulting in the inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase -4 (DPP-4) enzyme that causes the insulin biosynthesis enhancement and cell proliferation as well (5 & 6).

In easy words, this mushroom helps in increasing insulin biosynthesis in the body.

5. Possibly repair damaged liver

One of the studies shows that the 50 mg/Kg b.w dose of a polysaccharide extract of Coprinus comatus may be helpful in the recovery of the damaged liver caused by the consumption of alcohol (7).

Side effect

There is no major side effect of eating this shaggy mushroom if identified correctly and not confused with magpie fungus, Chlorophyllum molybdites mushroom, and Coprinopsis atramentaria mushrooms which contain coprin. This coprin inhibits the dehydrogenase in the liver and increases the level of acetaldehyde in the liver if consumed with alcohol.

But sometimes it may cause a skin reaction in a person with atopic dermatitis and atopic predisposition (2).

Coprinus comatus recipe

It is an excellent edible mushroom if it is eaten soon after being collected, as it has a short life span. Processing must be done within 4 to 6 hours of harvest to prevent undesirable changes to the mushroom for eating or storage.

Shaggy mane can be simply sauteed in a frying pan with olive oil and made crispy with some basil leaves garnishing. You can also make its soups and sauces.

Written By: Neetu Ladiya