Coprinus Comatus
Mushroom Poisoning

Author: laura barrocu
Date: 21/02/2011


Coprinus comatus is an edible fungus which can become toxic and potentially lethal when ingested together with alcohol, causing the so-called syndrome coprinica.

Coprinus comatus


from Latin "comatus" = equipped with cap, because of the fibrous cap scales that give the appearance of a "crown" from the greek κόπρος (_kópros_) = dung, manure. This refers to the habitat in which these fungi grow.

Fungus Description:

The Coprinus comatus belongs Coprinaceae’s family, is one of the few edible mushrooms of the genus Coprinus. It has an elongated shape, its color is white, with numerous scales on the cap, from which when the fungus is more mature, escapes a blackish fluid characteristic of autodigestion process which goes forward to the works of basidiospores; that’s why the fungus is also called lawyer's wig. This deliquescence characteristic blackish normally have all the Coprinus, during maturation, allows easy identification.
The Coprinus is part of a common species that grows mainly between spring and autumn, in isolated groups, fields, orchards, on land or in any carry-over loose, sandy and rich in organic matter, prefer small fragments of wood decaying wood, wood chips and sawdust, as the decomposition of wood creates the ideal conditions for growth of this species. (They're pretty easy to find too - the genus name Coprinus gives you a pretty good idea where to look for these mushrooms - very rich in dung or organic soil.)


The fungus is edible after cooking, especially when it is young and just cultured, as the color of the plates changes in a short time following the action of the spores.
The fungus, however, should not be ingested with alcohol, because it contains a toxin, the coprina [N-(1-hydroxycyclopropyl)-L -glutamine], from which originates a metabolite, 1-aminociclopropanolo, that can block the metabolism of ethanol and cause the so-called coprinic syndrome.

Coprinic Syndrome

The syndrome that follows is due to:
1. irreversible block aldehyde dehydrogenase (disulfiram)
2. block the transformation of acetaldehyde into acetate
3. accumulation of acetaldehyde first in the liver then in the blood.


Symptoms begin about 15-30 minutes after drinking alcohol and last about two hours in the absence of further alcohol consumption; are characterized by an intolerance to alcohol borne with symptoms of the cardiovascular system:

  • generalized peripheral vasodilation, which in cases can escalate into serious collapse
  • heatstroke
  • redness of the cheeks (facial erythrosis)
  • polypnea
  • erethism
  • cardiovascular arterial hypotension with tachycardia
  • state of anxiety sweating
  • trembling of the extremities

Prognosis and therapy

This syndrome is not fatal but can lead to serious risks such as heart disease or similar subjects. The state of discomfort can last for a few hours in the absence of further alcohol consumption.
If symptoms persist, you should assume pressor amines, such as norepinephrine or metaraminol.


Created by:
Laura Barrocu
Caterina Porru

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