Saturday, October 21, 2017

Waxcaps and more

I have been inspired by Clare Blencowe's website 'Misidentifying fungi' to report on some of my own painful efforts to make some sense of what seems to me to be a taxonomic minefield.

Part of my inspiration is that our neighbour's lawn (TQ781288) has an interesting crop of waxcaps.  The lawn is regularly mown and the cuttings removed, but no fertiliser or weedkiller has, to my knowledge, ever been applied.  After 30 years or more this makes an ideal waxcap sward.

Although they are very attractive, waxcaps often seem to me to be hard to name exactly and there have been many taxonomic changes over the years.  I have the feeling that what is going on has not, in many instances, been settled yet, so in my case I can only say what I think I have found.  I do have lots of books on fungi with lovely coloured picture but most do not seem to give the definitive data that ensures certainty in an identification.  In her blog Clare mentions some of the no doubt excellent Scandinavian books, but they are expensive and, as I said, I suspect there will be more changes in the future.

So far as waxcaps are concerned though, there is a useful quick guide issued by the British Mycological Society:.

Perhaps the most obvious species on the lawn at present is the group below.

I think this is the meadow waxcap (Hygrocybe pratensis).  This is also often listed as Cuphophyllus pratensis or H. pratensis var. pratensis but I have not been able to discover the attributes of var. pratensis or any other 'var'.

Another firm identification was of the parrot waxcap (Hygrocybe psittacina).  This little toadstool has a distinctive mixture of red, orange, yellow and green colours, though this does not show up well in the picture below.  I will try to get a better one though I suspect there are several small waxcaps in the same area that have red or orange caps.

There is a number oif pale grey or white waxcaps on the lawn and I think the one below may be the snowy waxcap (Hygrocybe virginea).  And yes, well-spotted, it is a fallen leaf from a nearby wild service tree.

Then there are those which, as they say, need further work:

An additional pleasure in the waxcap area is that over the hedge in the neighbouring fields (which are in Countryside Stewardship), I have found one or two small groups of the blackening waxcap (Hygrocybe conica sensu Quick Waxcap Key).

Away from the waxcap theme our neighbour's lawn also produced a small colony of the apricot club (Clavulinopsis luteoalba) growing in an area that is more moss than grass.

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