Hygrophorus hypothejus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Hygrophorus hypothejus Mushroom
Hygrophorus hypothejus is a smallish, slimy mushroom that has a dull brown cap and distinctive yellowish gills and stem. It grows in trooping groups on the soil in pine woods from late autumn to winter. Its a common and widespread edible ectomycorrhizal mushroom in northern Europe and North America.
European guidebooks list it as edible, though not recommended on account of its sliminess.
Other names: Herald of Winter, Olive-brown Waxy Cap, Late Fall Waxy Cap, Pine-wood Hygrophorus, Denneslijmkop (Dutch), Šťavnatka Pomrazka (Czech Republic), Salnas Gliemezene (Austria), Frostvaxskivling (Sweden).
Hygrophorus hypothejus Identification
Various shades of olive-brown, the margin paler and more yellow than the central region; convex, flattening, sometimes centrally depressed; slimy when wet; the margin is sometimes wavy at maturity; 3 to 6cm across.
Pale yellow, turning browner with age; distant; adnate or decurrent.
Pale yellow, sometimes tinged with orange; cylindrical; 4 to 7cm long, 0.7 to 1.4cm diameter.
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 8-9.5 x 3.5-5.5µm.
Habitat & Ecological role
Ectomycorrhizal, found under two- and three-needle pine trees, often beside forest tracks or paths.
August to December (often fruiting after the first of the winter frosts) in Britain and Ireland.
Hygrophorus hypothejus Similar Species
Is bright yellow and associated with larch.
Hygrocybe spadicea (The Date Waxcap)
Is a rare grassland mushroom with a dark brownish cap.
Several other Hygrophorus species, found with pine, are distinguished from Hygrophorus hypothejus by their different coloring.
Hygrophorus hypothejus Taxonomy & Etymology
The basionym of this species was established in 1818 when the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described the Herald of Winter wood wax mushroom scientifically and named it Agaricus hypothejus
It was also Fries who, in 1838, renamed this wood wax mushroom Hygrophorus hypothejus, which is the scientific name by which mycologists generally refer to it today.
Synonyms of Hygrophorus hypothejus include Agaricus hypothejus Fr., Hygrophorus hypothejus var. hypothejus (Fr.) Fr., Hygrophorus aureus Arrh., Hygrophorus hypothejus var. expallens Boud., and Hygrophorus hypothejus var. aureus (Arrh.) Imler.
Hygrophorus, the genus name, comes from hygro- meaning moisture, and -phorus meaning bearer; not only do these fungi contain a lot of water (as do most other mushrooms, of course) but they are also moist and sticky to touch.
The specific epithet hypothejus comes from hypo- meaning under or beneath, and -thejus meaning 'like sulphur or brimstone'.
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