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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hygrocybe mucronella ---- Bitter Waxcap

Hygrocybe mucronella.
Waxcaps and earthtongues have suddenly come up all over the fixed dunes.  These red/orange species can be confusing.  The gills with this one are deep orange with a paler edge, adnate to decurrent.  Boertmann (The Genus Hygrocybe) says 'there is large variation in size and shape of fruitbodies ---but once the bitter taste is recorded the identification is certain'.  Touch the cap edge with the tip of your tongue and the distinct bitter taste is immediately experienced.
Boertmann suggests 'kissing' the cap and stipe of many waxcaps to tell if the species has a dry or viscid coating.  The tip of the tongue is required for this species.  Care needs to be exercised while conducting such tests on fungi in case you are observed by the local constabulary who do not have sutch behaviour explained in their manual.  It has been known for a mycologist to spend a night in the cells after he was observed acting strangely on an Aberystwyth hillside but could not convince the officer that he was examining mushrooms.


  1. Would this be counted as a good waxcap year? There is an area at Cynheidre that has literally hundreds of snowy waxcaps, along with an assortment of other seemingly common species (haven't kissed any yet!) with earth tongues and spindles galore.

  2. Colin, I have not looked at many waxcap sites but a few have been very fine with many fb's 'showing' as birders might say. Some lawns however have had nothing at all. On average, mid-Nov for 4-6 weeks seems to be the best period but varies from year to year ----- but so unpredictable it is difficult to plan a 'foray' a year in advance.