What You Should Know
Hygrocybe conicoides have a dark red, crimson, orange, and yellow caps usually occurring together, in those places where these colorful fungi do occur they are often plentiful and sometimes form groups or lines of ten or more fruitbodies. The European distribution of Hygrocybe conicoides is also largely coastal, with several known sites Scandinavia and Germany. The most southerly Dune Waxcap population we have heard of is in Spain.
Hygrocybe conicoides is a very rare find in North America, where it is reported from the eastern coast of the USA and Canada; there is also a record of this species being found in Hawaii at a site to which it may have been introduced.
This mushroom is inedible.
Other names: Dune Waxcap.
Hygrocybe conicoides Mushroom Identification
The red, orange, or yellow caps, which are broadly conical and typically 2 to 4cm in diameter, are silky in dry weather but become greasy when wet. The caps blacken only slightly and slowly in places with age or when cut or bruised.
The broad, pink-tinged yellow gills are adnexed or free and fairly crowded.
Yellow, blackening slowly with age or when cut, the level stipe has no stem ring and is distinguished by fibrous longitudinal striations. Typically 5 to 10mm in diameter, stems range between 2 and 7cm tall.
Oblong to sub-cylindrical; 10-13 x 5-6.9μm; hyaline; inamyloid.
Habitat & Ecological Role
Short grass on sandy soil, most often in coastal sand-dune areas. 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 conicoides Look-Alikes
Blackens all over as soon as it reaches maturity.
Smaller and has grayish decurrent gills.
Very similar but usually more orange and has a fibrous, non-greasy cap that does not smell soapy when squashed.
Hygrocybe conicoides Taxonomy and Etymology
Described in 1960 by the British mycologist Peter Darbishire Orton (1916 - 2005) who named it Hygrophorus conicoides, the Dune Waxcap was transferred to the genus Hygrocybe in 1969 by P. D. Orton and Roy Watling, at which time it acquired its currently accepted scientific name Hygrocybe conicoides.
The genus Hygrocybe is so named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'. Because the specific epithet conica had already been taken by another Hygrocybe species whose caps are in the form of pointy witch's hats - the Blackening Waxcap Hygrocybe conica - the epithet coinicoides, which means similar to conica, has been allocated to this less common species. There can surely be little doubt that had the Dune Waxcap been found and described first then it rather than the Blackening Waxcap would have been awarded the prime epithet conica.
Synonyms: Hygrophorus conicoides P. D. Orton, Hygrocybe conica var. conicoides (P.D. Orton) Boertm.
Photo 1 - Author: Lukas from London, England (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)
Photo 2 - Author: Stephen James McWilliam (Public Domain)
Photo 3 - Author: Stephen James McWilliam (Public Domain)
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