Genus Panaeolus belongs to the family Coprinaceae. It is a relatively small genus of black spored little brown mushrooms with a bell shaped to conical cap and thin, brittle stalk. The sides of the gills often have a mottled or spotted appearance due to uneven maturation of the spore producing cells (basidia), but they do not deliquesce (a process of autodigestion whereby the cap is reduced to a black liquid) as in Coprinus. Psathyrellas are similar but do typically grow in decayed wood substrata and in soils, and those that grow in grass tend to have a convex cap and/or dark brown spores. Psilocybes and Conocybes are also dung-lovers, but do not have black spores. Panaeolus is abundant in pastures, lawns, and manure heaps, fruiting whenever it's moist. It often mixes company with other species. There are no known poisonous mushrooms in this genus.
Copelandia vs. Panaeolus
According to Rolf Singer's interpretation of the Coprinaceae family, genus Copelandia which includes more than 10 different species is one of at least three (sub)genera stemming from the traditional notion of the genus Panaeolus. Although some American mycologists strictly refer to the genus as Copelandia, most European mycologists prefer Panaeolus. At the moment the names of the species in both genera are used as synonims (e.g. Copelandia cyanescens = Panaeolus cyanescens etc.). The genus Copelandia was named by Italian mycologist Abbé Giacomo Bresadola (1847-1929) in honour of Edwin Bingham Copeland (1873-1964), an American research associate in botany who gathered fungi in the Philippines and presumably sent his collections - among which happened to be a bluing Panaeolus species - to Bresadola. Copelandias are black spored dung inhabiting tropical and subtropical mushrooms that readily bruise blue and feature a characteristic form of pleurocystidia.
- Panaeolus cyanescens Blue meanies