From the gills, how they liquesce as they get older to blackness, the location, and everything I can figure out over the last couple of years, I am sure these are inky caps (genus Coprinus). At the very least I am sure they aren't one of the more deadly types of mushrooms.
Like many people, I am very nervous about mushrooms. Poisoning, dying, stuff like that. I have only eaten one kind of wild mushroom to this day, and that was the reliable, easily identifiable morel. But I am very interested in learning, and there is no teacher hereabouts that I know. So...
I saw a cluster of these at the base of the tree a few days ago, but they were gone as of yesterday, and it looked like someone dug them up. Another good sign.
This morning I saw a new cluster. So I grabbed a handful.
I carefully brushed them free of the dirt (most of it- heh) ...you do not wash mushrooms with water, it ruins the texture. I set one aside for identification purposes in case there is an adverse reaction (some mushrooms are like peanuts too, ok for some people, and not for others).
I took some butter and sauteed them. I ate them. My wife took a couple bites. The taste was very tender, delicate, meaty, almost like a ham and cheese omelette "lite". About a small mouthful. Now it is time to wait and see.
The only thing about inky caps, is there are some that have an enzyme that interferes with your liver's processing of alcohol. You are supposed to have a couple days before and after where you don't imbibe. Luckily I rarely drink, so I should be good there.
I want to start eating and using stuff I find more often. The economics, the connection with nature, the attainment of knowledge, the recovery of the older ways of being, and all-around "possum living."
UPDATE, THE NEXT DAY at 6:13 am
No adverse aftereffects. Just good taste. Whew. Now that I recognize this mushroom and the location it grows, I can try some more. But one should never overdo anything, especially mushrooms!