What You Should Know
Hygrophorus erubescens is an inedible agaric fungus native to Scandinavia, Japan, Central Europe, Great Britain, and North America. This variable species of Hygrophorus is one of several that develop pink to reddish spots and discolorations on the gills. Although its cap color varies from nearly white to pink to fairly dark red, Hygrophorus erubescens can be identified by its fairly small size, nearly distant gills, preference for conifers, the fact that it lacks a partial veil when young, and its spores, which measure 8-10 µ long.
This mushroom fruits from August to October in coniferous forests, particularly spruce (Picea), on chalky soils. The mushrooms are found singly or sometimes in large troops. The range in North America is from the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast and Tennessee north to the Great Lakes region and southern parts of Canada.
Other names: Blotched Woodwax, Pink Waxcap.
Hygrophorus erubescens Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with conifers; growing scattered or gregariously; late summer and fall, or overwinter in warmer climates; apparently widely distributed in North America, but much more common from the Rocky Mountains westward.
2-8 cm; convex when young, becoming broadly convex or flat; sticky when fresh, but often drying out quickly; bald, or finely hairy in places; the margin at first inrolled, but eventually unrolling; whitish to pink (especially over the center), often with streaks or spots of color.
Broadly attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; nearly distant; whitish to pale yellowish; developing reddish spots or becoming pinkish overall; short-gills frequent.
3-10 cm long; 0.5-1 cm thick; more or less equal, or tapering to base, or (when young) nearly club-shaped; whitish at first but often developing pinkish to reddish discolorations; sometimes bruising yellowish in places; bald or finely hairy; solid.
White; firm; unchanging when sliced, or changing slowly yellowish.
Spores 8-10 x 5-6.5 µ; smooth; ellipsoid, often with one side somewhat flattened near the apiculus; smooth; hyaline in KOH; inamyloid. Hymenial cystidia absent. Basidia 4-sterigmate; to about 50 µ long. Lamellar trama divergent. Pileipellis an ixotrichoderm.
The similar-looking Hygrophorus russula can be distinguished by its more crowded gills and preference for hardwood forests, and H. purpurascens has a partial veil.
Hygrophorus erubescens Taxonomy
Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described it as Agaricus erubescens in his 1821 work Systema Mycologicum. The species name is derived from the Latin erubescens, meaning "reddening" or "blushing". It became Hygrophorus erubescens with the raising of Hygrophorus to genus rank. Common names include blotched wood wax and pink waxcap.
The species is classified in the subsection Pudorini of genus Hygrophorus, along with the closely related species H. pudorinus and H. purpurascens.
Photo 1 - Author: Ron Pastorino (Ronpast) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: the real Kam75 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: gailhampshire (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)