What You Should Know
Hygrocybe splendidissima is a mushroom of the waxcap genus Hygrocybe. It can be distinguished by its red dry cap, the smell of honey that is given off when the fruitbodies are dried and it usually has a twisted stem that is slightly or markedly flattened, particularly near to the base.
This mushroom is reported to be edible, but because of its rarity, it should not be collected other than for research purposes.
Found in Europe, it was originally described as new to science in 1960 by British mycologist Peter Darbishire Orton as a species of Hygrophorus
Other names: Splendid Waxcap, Lúčnica Nádherná (Slovakia), Rød Honningvokssopp (Norway), Praktvaxskivling (Sweden), Knaldrød Vokshat (Denmark), Prächtiger Saftling (Germany), Klaprooswasplaat (Netherlands), Gelbfleischiger Pracht-Saftling (Austria), Voskovka Nádherná (Czech Republic).
Hygrocybe splendidissima Mushroom Identification
5 to 10 cm across; initially conical, becoming shallowly convex or flattening, usually with a broad umbo; scarlet; smooth; dry or only very slightly greasy.
Adnate; distant; color as cap but usually somewhat paler.
7 to 10cm long and 1 to 2cm dia.; yellow flushed with cap color, but paler near the base; irregularly flattened and longitudinally grooved, narrowing near the base; smooth; no ring.
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 8-9.5 x 5-6µm; inamyloid.
Hygrocybe splendidissima Look-Alikes
Typically, a deeper red when young but its cap fades patchily to buff; it has a more cylindrical fibrous stem that is rarely twisted.
Smaller, a paler red, and has a less fibrous reddish stem.
Has a more pointed cap and yellow stem flesh. It turns black with age or when cut.
Hygrocybe splendidissima Taxonomy and Etymology
British mycologist Peter Darbishire Orton (1916 - 2006) described this waxcap in 1960, giving it the scientific name Hygrophorus splendidissimus. Its currently accepted scientific name appeared in 1967, when the Austrian mycologist Meinhard Michael Moser (1924 - 2002) transferred the Splendid Waxcap to the genmus Hygrocybe, thereby renaming it Hygrocybe splendidissima.
Synonyms of Hygrocybe splendidissima include Hygrophorus splendidissimus P.D. Orton, Hygrocybe punicea var. splendidissima (P.D. Orton) Krieglst.
The genus Hygrocybe is named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'. Superlatives are rarely used to describe fungi, but in this instance, there is justification: splendidissima means 'most splendid', and it is had to imagine a more splendid sight than a group of these big bold red mushrooms gleaming in the autumn sunlight.
Photo 1 - Author: Len Worthington (lennyworthington) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: Mike Pennington (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 4 - Author: Courtney and Pat (theroach's) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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