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This small clustered mushroom is named for the white flakes of universal veil which dust the top of the yellow-brown caps. The flakes give the caps a sparkly appearance, hence the name, Mica Cap. These flakes may also wash off as the mushroom ages, making identification of older clumps of them more difficult to identify. The stem has no ring, and is thin and hollow.
Mica Caps are a member of one of the families of inky cap mushrooms. The gills and caps of these mushrooms liquify as they age, starting at the cap margin, and turning progressively to black goo. Gills for Mica Caps are characteristically white in young mushrooms, and black and inky in older ones.
They are edible, and considered to be a good mushroom for the frying pan, if cooked, and if prepared promptly after picking. Picking Inky cap mushrooms triggers rapid decay, and the caps will liquify within less than a day in most cases. The warmer the day, the faster the decay - they can become inedible in just a few hours on warm summer days.
Mica Caps will break down more slowly and to a lesser extent than some other inky caps, but should still be prepared promptly. They may be frozen, but should be taken from freezer to hot pan when using frozen mushrooms, so they do not start to break down as they thaw.
They bear spring to fall, in warm weather, and are often one of the earliest spring mushrooms to appear. They grow on rotted wood, generally springing from the ground around rotting stumps - they rarely grow directly ON rotting wood, they often grow on grass or surface debris, with the wood they are feeding upon being buried in the ground - they prefer the bark to the wood, and are secondary decomposers, liking wood that is already partially broken down. This means they can be sown in tandem with primary digesters (those that like fresh wood), for succession harvests. They fruit in clusters, so while the mushrooms are fairly small (1-2 inches wide), they bear in large enough numbers to be worth the effort to pick.
Mica Caps should be harvested when the caps are not split, before the edges start to blacken. It is NORMAL for inky caps to turn the skillet black as you are cooking them.
There is conflicting info regarding safety of consuming these mushrooms with alcohol - their cousins are known for causing severe discomfort when consumed with alcohol. While Mica Caps have been found to NOT contain Coprine (the chemical which is responsible for alcohol reactions in other Inky Cap mushrooms), is probably NOT a good idea to serve these with wine, or to even cook them in it.