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Waxcap Watch

This autumn, help Plantlife find Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.

Britain is home to some of the most important waxcap grasslands in the world. However many species are becoming rare and declining; they need identifying and protecting.


A bright orange waxcap mushroom on green grass with a blue sky
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Why we need you to find waxcaps

Waxcaps are an indicator of rare, species-rich grassland. Knowing where waxcaps and other grassland fungi are thriving helps us pinpoint where fragments of ancient meadows survive, so we can protect them for the future.

Not just important for the hundreds of wildflowers they can be home to, these ancient grasslands are also crucial in the fight against climate change. Species-rich grassland can store up to a third more carbon than areas with just a few species.

How to take part in the Waxcap Watch

It’s easy for anyone in England, Scotland and Wales to take part in the Waxcap Watch – all you need is a smart phone or access to a computer!

Click through the instructions below to guide you from start to finish.

  • 1. Download the app

    • Download the free Survey123 app on your smartphone or tablet: 
    • Open this link on your smart device: 
    • Select ‘Open in the Survey123 field app’ and then ‘Continue without signing in’ 
    • A message will pop up asking for access to your phone’s camera and storage – please click Yes / Allow and you’re ready to go. 

    Alternatively, after you click the link above and select ‘Open in browser’, you can launch the survey in your web browser without having to download Survey123 app. 

    After you submit your first survey, the next time you open the Survey123 app click on the WaxcApp icon (red waxcap with Plantlife logo) and then ‘Collect’ to fill out another survey. 

  • 2. Visit a site

    Visit a field, park, road verge, pasture, heathland, dune or cemetery; in fact, you can visit any grassy area which is open to the public, or for which you have the landowner’s explicit permission,  between September and late November when waxcaps look their best.

    They can be found growing in:

    • Permanent pastures and hay meadows
    • Grassland on cliffs, coastal slopes and sand dunes
    • Upland grassland and heath
    • Urban grasslands including lawns, parks, cemeteries, church and chapel yards
    • Roadside verges

    The easiest way to search an area for waxcaps is to walk in a zig-zag pattern at a slow pace, as some of the mushrooms are only a few centimetres tall!

  • 3. Let us know what you see

    Use the app to complete a few questions about the place you are visiting and to record which colours of waxcaps and grassland fungi you can see.

    There is no restriction on the number of surveys you do – the more the better as this will help build a picture of what can be found at your site throughout the fungus season. Different fungi will come and go as the months change. Some fungi are visible only for a few days or weeks at each time.


How to Find and Identify Waxcap Fungi

How to Find and Identify Waxcap Fungi

Learn more about waxcaps with experts from our Dynamic Dunescapes site in Kenfig, Wales.

Waxcap Training Course
Pink waxcap fungi growing in short green lawn

Waxcap Training Course

Take your waxcap knowledge to the next level with our training course, suitable for keen fungi finders and land owners.

Video: How to use the Waxcap Watch app

Video: How to use the Waxcap Watch app

Watch as Plantlife fungi expert Sarah Shuttleworth records her first waxcap find on the Waxcap Watch app.

Join our Facebook group
A Parrot Waxcap.

Join our Facebook group

A group dedicated to those taking part in Plantlife's Waxcap Watch, to share knowledge and photos of waxcaps and related species.

The Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn Project
An orange waxcap mushroom growing in short grass

The Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn Project

Discover how Plantlife is working to create positive change for grasslands in Wales, and how you can get involved with the project.

Threats to waxcaps

Threats to waxcaps

Read this in depth piece about the threats our grassland fungi face, and discover other ways we can all take action to protect them.


  • What happens with the results from my survey?

    By taking a part in our survey you will help us to:

    • Discover previously unknown waxcap grassland sites across the UK
    • Get an indication of habitat condition at each site to aid more informed conversations with landowners and land managers
    • Make the case to policy makers for better protection for waxcaps
    • In Wales, we will look to share new findings with Natural Resources Wales, Fungus groups and other experts to investigate further
    • In Scotland, results from the survey will inform conversations with landowners on how best to restore and protect local waxcap grasslands in key project areas such as the Cairngorms National Park

    Much of this app is based on the work by Gareth Griffith, John Bratton and Gary Easton. Original publication: Griffith, G.W., Bratton, J.H. & Easton, G. (2004) Charismatic megafungi; the conservation of waxcap grasslands. British Wildlife. October 2004, pp 31-43.

  • How do I stay safe during a survey?

    You are responsible for your own health and safety; Plantlife do not accept any liability or responsibility for the wellbeing of surveyors. Similarly, they do not accept any liability or responsibility for damage to, or loss of, personal property.

    We always recommend visiting sites and undertaking surveys with someone else and taking the following precautions:

    – Check the forecast and make appropriate arrangements. If the weather changes you may need to rethink your plans.
    – Take care on uneven or slippery ground and keep to footpaths where necessary.
    – Take a mobile phone and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
    –  Most fungi are non-toxic; even toxic ones are safe to hold. However, always wash your hands after handling fungi.

  • What are my access rights?

    England and Wales

    Grassland fungi can be found across a variety of different sites, many of which are publicly accessible, such as playing fields, parks or cemeteries. Where there is no open access, keep to public rights of way (footpaths and bridleways). If you plan to carry out a survey on private land, please make sure you obtain the landowner’s permission to access the site.


    Make sure you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code when carrying out this activity.