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This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
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They are generally found in unimproved grassland (favouring acid or neutral grassland) and in leaf litter on woodland edges and clearings. In the summer and autumn, they can be found on road verges, in cropped grassland and in churchyards.
After years of low-nutrient management, they can also appear on lawns.
This autumn, help Plantlife find Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
Rare but when found usually on unimproved grassland, often mossy between late summer and autumn.
The latin name for Olive Earthtongues is Microglossum Olivaceum. Microglossum means small tongue, while olivaceum refers to the hint of olive to most of the fruitbodies (but note that the colour is very variable with some being much browner than others).
Meadow Waxcaps (Hygrocybe pratensis) are a common find on cropped grassland and upland pastures. It appears from late August until December. Particularly in upland areas on acidic soil, the Meadow Waxcap is one of the few waxcap species that can tolerate small amounts of fertiliser being applied to its grassland habitat.
Two varieties of the Meadow Waxcap occur in Britain. One is apricot and the other is paler and almost white. It is a conspicuous and robust waxcap often persisting for several weeks.
Blackening Waxcaps (Hygrocybe conica) sometimes appears in lines along roadside verges, particularly on hillsides or where the grass is well shaded, moist and mossy.
Blackening Waxcaps can appear remarkably quickly after rain in late summer and autumn, but once mature they remain standing sometimes for more than two weeks.
They are one of the most common waxcaps in Northern Europe.
The Parrot Waxcap (Gliophorus psittacinus) can be found in the summer and autumn on roadside verges, cropped grassland and in churchyards. Appearing on lawns only after years of low-nutrient management.
It favours unimproved acid or neutral grassland, and are most plentiful in western Britain and particularly in Wales.
There are two Parrot Waxcap species that are recognised: Gliophorus psittacinus and Gliophorus perplexa; the latter was previously considered to be a mere variety.
Image by Sarah Shuttleworth
Violet Coral (Clavaria zollingeri) is a rare species in Britain found in unimproved grassland. It is usually solitary, but can occur in small groups.
It is listed as vulnerable across Europe on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Snowy Waxcaps (Cuphophyllus virgineus) can be found in parkland, garden lawns, churchyards and pastures around autumn time.
One of the most widely recorded waxcaps in unfertilised grassland. A variable species which includes varieties having pale buff-brown colours on the cap. Snowy waxcaps are a little more hardy than other waxcap species.
The Cedarwood Waxcap (similar white colour with distinctive smell of woof chippings).
The Fibrous Waxcap (Hygrocybe intermedia) is an uncommon to occasional find in most of Britain and Ireland except in some parts of Wales, where it is more frequently recorded. Most often seen in unimproved grassland and, occasionally, in sand-dune systems.
The bright right orange (with hints of yellow) cap, fades and sometimes blackening with age.
The Blackening Waxcap
A very rare find, Big Blue Pinkgill Entoloma bloxamii grows in unfertilised, long-established grasslands, usually on neutral or calcareous soils
In 2019 it was listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in the UK, and a large area of mainland Europe.
With thanks to Debbie Evans for our image.
The Pink Ballerina Waxcap (Porpolomopsis calytriformis) is uncommon and localised in Britain and Ireland.
Due to favouring unimproved acid or neutral grassland it is more often seen in western Britain and particularly in Wales, sometimes in churchyards but more often on sheep-grazed acid grassland in the hills.
Commonly referred to as the Ballerina Waxcap, because of the way the pink cap flares out and splits like a tutu or pirouetting dancer.
The Ballerina Waxcap is on the The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICNU) Red List. At present it is a decreasing species and listed as vulnerable.
The Meadow Waxcap.
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