What You Should Know
Hygrocybe quieta is a species of gilled mushroom in the family Hygrophoraceae. This orange-yellow waxcap occurs mainly in grassland but is also found occasionally in woodland glades. It seems to show no particular affinity for any soil type, as the Oily Waxcap is quite common on both acidic and basic soils. It is widespread throughout Europe, where it typically grows in old, unimproved, short sward grassland (pastures and lawns). Recent research suggests waxcaps are neither mycorrhizal nor saprotrophic but may be associated with mosses.
The species has a European distribution and typically occurs in grassland where it produces basidiocarps (fruit bodies) in the autumn. In several countries, H. quieta is of conservation concern, appearing on national red lists of threatened fungi.
Hygrocybe quieta is an inedible but not poisonous.
Other names: Oily Waxcap.
Hygrocybe quieta Mushroom Identification
Dryer than most waxcaps, the cap is yellow or yellow-orange and expands to typically 4 to 6cm in diameter. The caps of the Oily Waxcap are always convex rather than conical; in dry weather, they tend to flatten and often become concave (with upturned edges).
The broad gills are widely spaced, paler than the cap, and deeply notched; they are broadly attached to the stipe.
Color the same as the cap or a little paler, with no ring, the level diameter stipe is 5 to 10mm in diameter and ranges between 2 and 7cm tall.
Ellipsoidal to oblong with a central constriction, smooth, 7.5-9.0 x 3.5-5μm; inamyloid.
Subregular, with hyphal elements, somewhat inflated, mostly 10 to 15μm in diameter x 25 to 150μm long.
A cutis with a few erect terminal hyphae, mostly 4 to 8μm in diameter.
Odor and Taste
This waxcap has a slight soapy or oily odor said (by those who go around sniffing such things) to be reminiscent of bed bugs or shield bugs. If you squash a piece of gill material between your fingers the smell is more readily detectable.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Close-cropped or mown acid grassland where artificial fertilizers are not spread. Waxcaps have long been considered to be saprobic on the dead roots of grasses and other grassland plants, but it is now considered likely that there is some kind of mutual relationship between waxcaps and mosses.
Hygrocybe quieta Look-Alikes
Smaller, usually darker, and has decurrent gills.
Very similar but usually more orange and has a fibrous, non-greasy cap that does not smell soapy when squashed.
Hygrocybe quieta Taxonomy and Etymology
When French mycologist Robert Kühner (1903 - 1996) described this fairly common grassland mushroom in 1947 he gave it the name Hygrophorus quietus. Four years later the German-born mycologist Rolf Singer (1906 - 1994) transferred the Oily Waxcap to the genus Hygrocybe, since when its accepted scientific name has been Hygrocybe quieta.
The genus Hygrocybe is so named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'.
The Latin epithet quieta is probably a reference to the inconspicuous (quiet, unobtrusive) colors of this visually nondescript waxcap. The same specific epithet is applied to one of the rather dull, brown milkcaps.
Photo 1 - Author: Dr. Hans-Günter Wagner (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 2 - Author: Lukas from London, England (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: gailhampshire (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)