The ling chih has a remarkably shiny top. Although the Asian name, ling chih, means "mushroom of immortality," referring to its medicinal uses, the common English names, "varnished conk" and "lacquered polypore," refer to its shininess.
In a lobster mushroom, the cap, gills, and stalk of a host mushroom are covered by a finely bumpy, vivid orange to orange-red layer of mold. The gills of the host mushroom can be entirely obscured by the parasite.
The magpie inkcap (Coprinopsis picacea) has a white, shaggy, cylindrical cap that turns black and inky. In the various species of inky caps, like this one, spores are distributed when the cap decays and liquefies.
The cap of magpie inkcaps are cylindrical and long when young and gradually expand to a bell shape. With age, they open wider and the cap and gills deteriorate, turning inky and liquefying from the margin inward. Sometimes they drip blackish "ink" from the edges.
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