I recently lost a set of keys at Dorsey's Knob Park. I knew approximately where I had dropped them on the ground, however, the sun set before I could find them. The following day I returned to the scene and searched the lawn until I discovered them lying in the grass.
In the process of looking for my keys, I stumbled upon another treasure. Several clumps of Inky Cap Mushrooms, Coprinopsis atramentaria, had seemingly appeared overnight.
Inky Cap is an interesting species of mushroom because it contains a chemical compound called coprine. One of coprine's most notable properties is that it interacts with alcohol. Basically, whether or not Inky Caps are poisonous depends on whether the eater has also consumed alcohol. If there is no alcohol present in the body, Inky Caps are generally not toxic. But if consumed with alcohol, nausea, vomiting, and tingling limbs occurs with five to ten minutes. The severity of the symptoms is directly related to how much alcohol has been consumed. In rare cases, the coprine and alcohol interaction results in a heart attack!
For the time being, I think I'll just stick to eating mushrooms that I find in the grocery store.
Field Notes from Dorsey's Knob
Thoughts and observations on the natural history and current happenings at Dorsey's Knob Park.
About the Author
John Boback is a naturalist, historian, environmental educator and caretaker at Dorsey's Knob Park. He can often be seen around the park staring intently into the trees through binoculars or crouched down trying to photograph a wildflower or an interesting insect. If you see him, take a moment to say hello.