What You Should Know
Hygrocybe spadicea is a well-characterized waxcap with a brown, conical to umbonate pileus, contrasting with the yellow, stipe and lamellae (sometimes white in var. albifolia). The species is characteristic for grass-heaths on dry, very poor, acidic to weakly acidic soils and for limestone-grasslands on calcareous soils.
Its main distribution in Europe, where it is widespread but rare to very rare. It occurs on very scattered localities from the lowland to the subalpine zone throughout its range (Boertmann 2010). It is also known from a few localities in Asia. For now the records from North America and New Zealand are not considered to be the same species.
Other names: Date Waxcap.
Hygrocybe spadicea Mushroom Identification
A distinctive dark brown, the caps are at first broadly conical, developing lobes and eventually expanding but retaining a fairly acute umbo; often the margin splits to reveal the pale cap flesh beneath the cap cuticle.
The adnexed to free gills are moderate to widely spaced and initially yellow or occasionally pale orange, turning somewhat darker with age.
Yellow or pale orange, the cylindrical stem is fibrillose and sometimes has brown longitudinal fibers; 3 to 12mm in diameter and 3.5 to 12cm tall; it has no ring.
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 9-12 x 5-7µm; inamyloid.
Odor and Taste
Habitat & Ecological Role
In unimproved dry grassland.
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.
Hygrophorus hypothejus has an olivaceous-brown cap; it is a woodland species.
Hygrocybe spadicea Taxonomy and Etymology
Described in 1772 by Italian physician and mycologist Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, who named it Agaricus spadiceus the Date Waxcap was transferred to the genus Hygrocybe by Finish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834- 1917) in 1879, at which point it acquired its currently accepted scientific name Hygrocybe spadicea.
Synonyms of Hygrocybe spadicea include Agaricus spadiceus Scop., and Hygrophorus spadiceus (Scop.) Fr.
The genus Hygrocybe is so named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'.
The specific epithet spadicea is Latin and means 'of a bright clear brown color', or chestnut brown, a description which is certainly applicable to the caps most Date Waxcaps.
Photo 1 - Author: John Bjarne Jordal/Biolog J.B. Jordal AS (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Photo 3 - Author: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)