We usually see these packed together in dense clusters, and those I found in our garden are no exception, growing from the roots of an old cherry tree we unfortunately had to fell. Mica is a mineral that can be ground down into a shiny powder and used in everything from make-up and paint to cement – it is sometimes referred to as “nature’s glitter”. The caps of the young mushrooms are coated in a thin layer of reflective mica-like cells that give rise to their common names, which also include Shiny Cap and Glistening Inky Cap. After picking, the gills slowly dissolve into a black, inky, spore-laden liquid, a process known as autodigestion or (more poetically) deliquescence. The nipple-like protrusions in the middle of the mushrooms in my photo go by the rather fab name “umbos”. In the right humid conditions Mica Cap can be prolific – one elm stump produced ten successive crops over a spring and summer – over 17 kilos of fresh mushrooms!
Photo by Pixabay