A Forager’s Guide to Mica Caps (Coprinellus Micaceus)

A Forager’s Guide To Mica Caps (Coprinellus Micaceus)
Coprinellus micaceus is an edible gilled fungi (Agaricales). Its synonyms include glistening inkcap and mica cap. Mica caps are among the easily identifiable inky caps. You often spot them clustered together on buried wood or stumps. They have a reddish-brown color with mica-like granules.

This edible mushroom is saprobic, meaning they make energy from dead matter. The young specimens are decorated with shiny mica-like granules, the remains of the universal veil that covered them when popping up from the ground. 

Based on the uniqueness of the C. micaceus that stands out, foraging is easy.

Is Mica Cap Edible?

Mica caps are edible. Cooking it activates the enzymes which are responsible for deliquescence or autodigestion. Deliquescence often kicks in an hour into collecting the edible mushroom.

Experts suggest not to eat mica caps you find on the roadside or in locations exposed to pollutants since these mushrooms usually bioaccumulate harmful heavy metals like cadmium and lead.

Watch our video to learn all about how to find, forage, and identify mica caps!

Where Does Mica Cap Grow?

We’ve established that mica caps are saprobic. They get their nutrients from decomposing or buried wood. You will spot them in stumps or around logs from trees with broad leaves.

Mica caps will consume the host tree’s bark, specifically the secondary phloem, rather than the wood itself. Coprinus micaceus is a “late colonizer” in the chain of fungi that breaks down wood. It prefers to eat wood broken down enough to be “friably softened.” 

According to studies, the fungus may also exist as an endophyte, meaning it can occupy a healthy tree’s woody tissues without triggering disease signs.

The fungus also grows around paths, roads, construction sites, parking lot edges, and gardens.

Coprinellus micaceus
Coprinellus micaceus
mica coprinus 61614 1280

Foraging the Mica Cap

Success in foraging the mica cap depends on your search area. That’s why it‘s good to check field guides.

Look for wood debris in the forest or under decaying leaves. You will often find them clustered together.

It’s easy to identify them with their reddish-brown color and the glistening particles all over their cap. The glistening particles are the remains of the universal veil that cover the young specimens. You want to go for the mature ones with black spore print.

Once collected, start preparing them soon since this mushroom deliquesces in an hour.

It’s important to note that the mica cap is similar to the Coprinopsis atramentaria in appearance. While edible, Coprinopsis atramentaria can be poisoning if eaten within a few hours of alcohol consumption.

Coprinopsis atramentaria
Coprinopsis atramentaria

How Do You Prepare Mica Caps?

Genus Coprinus is great for omelets. You can also use them as a flavor for your sauces.

However, you want to be extra careful when cooking this mushroom since it’s quite delicate.

Coprinellus Micaceus: Benefits & Uses

Mica caps are quite common in Europe and North America. But they also grow in some parts of South America, Australia, and Asia.

You can spot the mica cap in forests, gardens, cultivated areas, and urban landscapes. It always springs up during summer, spring, and sometimes in winter.

Known as mica cap, shiny cap, and glistening inky cap, it has a lot of uses and benefits, some of which include:

1. Anti-Tumor and Antiviral

Research conducted in laboratories has shown that Coprinus mushrooms can modify the activity of the immune system. It can also inhibit the growth of tumors and viruses.

According to several studies, the mica cap can also help lower blood sugar.

2. Absorb Toxins

Coprinus micaceus can absorb hazardous heavy metals in the surrounding environment, including cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.

As a result, they might help decontaminate areas that have been polluted. 

3. Antioxidant Properties

Another advantage is that species of the genus Coprinus have antioxidant qualities, which can help reduce the oxidative stress caused by pollution.

4. Used in Beauty Cosmetics

Some cosmetic companies use mica caps to develop their skin care products. That is because Coprinus micaceus promotes skin health and helps minimize dryness and irritation.


Lorin is a writer, photographer and nature enthusiast in Sacramento, CA. In addition to gardening, she makes a regular practice of forging for edible plants and flowers. Nature nourishes if you know where to look.

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