Coprinopsis xenobia (Pers.) (P.D. Orton) Redhead, Vilgalys & Moncalvo

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Psathyrellaceae

Coprinopsis xenobia

A small greyish inkcap with a white veil, Coprinopsis xenobia is found on cow dung. This particular species doesn’t have a common name, as it has been very rarely reported. In the photo above the tiny inkcap with the granular veil growing to the right is the very small Coprinopsis cordispora.

Like a lot of small inkcaps Coprinopsis xenobia grows and then deliquesces very quickly, leaving stalks with inky blobs on the top. These photographs were taken in October 2013 on the edge of woodland in The New Forest, Hampshire.


Coprinopsis xenobia is rare in the UK and has fewer than ten records most of which are from Scotland.

Coprinopsis xenobia, end of deliquescent stage

Taxonomic history

Coprinopsis xenobia was first described scientifically in 1979 by British mycologist P.D. Orton (1916 - 2005) who named it Coprinus xenobius. It was renamed Coprinopsis xenobia when Redhead, Vilgalys & Moncalvo conducted a re-evaluation of the taxonomy of the Coprinus genus in 2001. A large number of other fungi also left the genus Coprinus to join the genera Coprinopsis, Coprinellus or Parasola.

Coprinus xenobius is a synonyms of Coprinopsis xenobia.


The generic name Coprinopsis indicates that this mushrooms genus is similar to the genus Coprinus, which literally means 'living on dung' - that's true of quite a few of the inkcaps and particularly apt for this species.

The specific epithet xenobia comes from the Greek word xénos, meaning foreign. (A xenobiotic chemical is one found in an organism but not but not normally produced by tat organism or expected to be present in it - hence the term antibiotics.)

In America the terms Inky Cap or Inky-cap are most commonly used, while in many older field guides published in Britain you are likely to see Ink Cap or Ink-cap rather than Inkcap.

Identification guide

Young cap of Coprinopsis xenobia


Usually 1 to 1.5 cm tall, when closed,Becoming conical and then flat and translucent before deliquescing from the rim within a few hours of becoming fully expanded.

Pileipellis of Coprinopsis xenobia


The cap surface is covered with a sparse filamentous white veil of diverticulate, thin-walled hyphae.

Coprinopsis xenobia cap and stem


White, typically 2mm in diameter and 4cm tall.

Spores of Coprinopsis xenobia


Narrow oblong spores average length 11μm x breadth 5.5-8μm with a germ pore.

Show larger image

Spore print

Violaceous black.


Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic. Coprinopsis xenobia has only been found on cow dung.


Too few records. Possibly summer - autumn.

Similar species

There are similar small grey inkcaps with white veils, and only microscopic examination of the veil cells and spores will determine the species. Macroscopic lookalikes include Coprinopsis macrocephala, Coprinopsis vermiculifer etc.

Coprinopsis xenobia on cow dung

Culinary Notes

No data available, but it is not a good idea to eat fungi that grow on cow dung.

Reference Sources

Keys to Parasola, Coprinellus, Coprinopsis and Coprinus in Britain; D.J. Schafer 26th June 2009

Vilgalys & Moncalvo, in Redhead, Vilgalys, Moncalvo, Johnson & Hopple, Taxon 50(1): 232 (2001): 203–41.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly.

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