Deliquescent is a term used in mycology. It refers to a type of self destruction where tissue dissolves into a liquid.

It occurs in almost all Coprinus genera mushrooms and it's for this feature they get the name inky or ink caps. As the mushroom matures the spores turn the gray/pink gills dark black, in shaggy mane AKA lawyer's wig - a largish edible member of the group - the gills turn to a black liquid, and it is a race to make them into a sauce before they get there first.

The black liquid is not the product of 'rot' in the traditional sense of the word, but more like autolysis, being self inflicted and not from the diligent decaying exudates of other microorganisms. This orchestrated self destruction allows spores in the deeper recesses of the bell tower access to air currents, the gills shorten as under the influence of an invisible liquefying pencil sharpener. Coprinus mushrooms all do this, though some open like umbrellas in the wind and curl upward like strong man mustaches faster than they can deliquesce.

Here today, liquid tomorrow lifestyles of Coprinus mushrooms can send a flush of trooping caps predawn to a clearfell logging scale miniature by noon.

Is is worth mentioning that the byproduct of this deliquescence, a suspension of coalsack black spores and melanin rich tissue can actually be used as ink to write with and has historically been used in this way via quills. This formed part of the mushroom stationary kit, the other requirement being paper that could be made from macerated conk AKA bracket fungi fibres.

Del`i*ques"cent (?), a. [L. deliquescens, -entis, p. pr. of deliquescere: cf. F. d'eliquescent.]

1.

Dissolving; liquefying by contact with the air; capable of attracting moisture from the atmosphere and becoming liquid; as, deliquescent salts.

2. Bot.

Branching so that the stem is lost in branches, as in most deciduous trees.

Gray.

 

© Webster 1913.

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