2 November 2007 Essex. Photograph copyright Leif Goodwin.
Common Ink Cap, Tippler's Bane
Egg shaped, expanding with age, radially grooved, grey, often with a brown centre, to about 7 cm across
White at first, then black and deliquescing
Tapered upwards, smooth, white
Spring to autumn
On dead wood (often buried) from deciduous trees, often in clumps
Spores ellipsoidal to almond shaped, smooth (8-11) x (5-6) µm2
Although edible, the fungus should not be consumed with alcohol as the two in combination cause distressing symptoms including anxiety, hot flushes and nausea. The effect is long lasting and alcohol should be avoided for up to 3 days after ingestion of the fungus.
The fungus contains coprine, which causes a form of poisoning known as the Antabuse syndrome, after the Antabuse medication given to alcoholics to dissuade them from consuming alcohol. The active ingredient in Antabuse is disulfiram, not coprine.