The Shaggy Mane Coprinus comatus is a common mushroom found throughout much of the northern hemisphere. This is the fungus you see growing up through the shoulder of the road in the fall or early winter in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It produces in the spring in the Southwest as well.
The Shaggy Mane is of interest because it is one of the most plentiful, easily identified, and delicious mushrooms found in North America. It's also one of the safest mushrooms, because of the ease in identifying it, and the lack of poisonous look-alikes. Shaggy Manes are 2-10 inches tall, cylindrical or columnar, very light colored, and shaggy. The cap has a coating of light colored scales, which make the mushroom look rough. The gills are white to brownish-pink colored. The stem is smooth and also white. The spores are black. One of the surest ways of positively identifying shaggy manes is the presence of older specimens, which have turned 'inky' and black, a process of deterioration called deliquescing.
Shaggy Manes are delicious dipped in egg batter and bread crumbs and sauteed. They don't keep well, and the best taste and texture is found in fairly young specimens, so don't pick more than you can eat that day. Shaggy Manes are a great mushroom for the beginning wild mushroom hunter.