Shaggy ink cap mushroom

Mushroom ink

Close-up of the slimy ink-like liquid of a mushroom

A mushroom's slimy ink-like liquid. © Jenny Downing, CC BY 2.0

Did you know that you can make your own ink… from mushrooms?

Shaggy ink cap mushrooms make a slimy ink-like liquid as a way of spreading their spores. You can use this to write and draw with.

You will need:

  • some shaggy ink cap mushrooms
  • a clean jam jar or plastic pot

How to find the mushrooms

The shaggy ink cap is a large mushroom and is easy to identify. It is not poisonous and is safe to handle. But please don’t pick any mushrooms you are not sure about.

Cluster of shaggy ink cap mushrooms

Shaggy ink cap mushrooms. © scorzonera, CC BY-NC 2.0

You can usually find shaggy ink caps in autumn in grass on lawns, roadsides or rubbish heaps.

What they look like:

  • The mushroom is 5-15cm tall and has a ring around its stem.
  • The outside is white and looks like it is covered in feathers.
  • The inside is black when it is ready to be used for ink making.

How to make your ink

  1. Pick off the tops of your shaggy ink cap mushrooms and place them in a clean jam jar or plastic pot.
  2. Wait a few days. Your mushrooms will have liquefied into ink. (It may be best to leave your jar or pot of mushrooms outside for this bit as the ink can smell.)

When your ink is ready, use a reed pen or paintbrush to write and draw with.

We'd love to see your drawings, so please send them in to our picture gallery.

Jars showing shaggy ink cap mushroom tops and the ink they make

Mushroom tops in a jar (left) and some collected a few days earlier, which are turning into ink (right). © Gabriolan.ca

Remember:

  • If you are not sure what kind of mushroom it is, don’t pick it.
  • Always wash your hands after picking any mushrooms.
  • Do not eat the mushrooms, even if they look like ones you have eaten before.
  • When mushroom picking, always take an adult with you.

This article was originally published in Wild World, our magazine for kids.