Hygrophorus chrysodon (Batsch) Fr. - Gold Flecked Woodwax

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Hygrophoraceae

Hygrophorus chrysodon, Gold Flecked Woodwax

A woodwax of coniferous and mixed broadleaf woodlands, this mycorrhizal mushroom is a rare and special sight in Britain. Not all specimens are spectacularly gold flecked, unfortunately, so very careful inspection of any whitish woodwax mushrooms is advisable.

Hygrophorus chrysodon occurs in very much the same kinds of habitats as the Ivory Woodwax Hygrophorus eburneus, and in my experience these two mushrooms often fruit side by side.

Distribution

Hygrophorus chrysodon is found occasionally throughout most of Britain. On mainland Europe the Gold-flecked Woodwax is found from Scandinavia down to Spain and Italy. This species is also common in some parts of North America, where some authorities refer to it as the Golden Tooth Woodwax because of the jagged yellow scales often seen hanging from the cap rim.

The Gold Flecked Woodwax mushrooms shown on this page were found in mixed woodlands in Cambridgeshire, southern England, during the British Mycological Society's Autumn Foray in October 2013.

Taxonomic history

Hygrophorus chrysodon, Gold Flecked Woodwax, stem and gills

The basionym of this species was established in 1838, when German naturalist August Johann Georg Karl Batsch (1761 - 1802) described this woodwax under the binomial scientific name Agaricus chrysodon. It was the famous Swedish mycologist Augustus Magnus Fries who, in 1838, transferred this species to its present genus, establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Hygrophorus chrysodon.

Synonyms of Hygrophorus chrysodon include Agaricus chrysodon Batsch, and Hygrophorus chrysodon var. leucodon Alb. & Schwein.

Etymology

Hygrophorus, the genus name, comes from hygro- meaning moisture, and -phorus meaning bearer; not only do these fungi contain a lot of water (as do most other mushrooms, of course) but they are also moist and sticky or slimy.

The specific epithet chrysodon comes from chryso- meaning golden and -don meaning tooth - and sure enough the caps and stems of these fungi are adorned with tooth-like golden yellow scales.

Identification guide

Cap of Hygrophorus chrysodon, Gold Flecked Woodwax

Cap

Initially convex, expanding to become almost flat but retaining an inrolled margin; white surface flecked with yellow scales, mostly at the margin; sticky when wet, becoming smooth and shiny when dry. 3 to 8cm across when fully mature. The cap flesh is white. The amount of yellow colouring varies greatly from sample to sample and with age of the fruitbody; this can make confident identification of some specimens very difficult. Identification can be confirmed if by putting a drop of potassium hydroxide (KOH) onto the cap or stem surface it turns lemon yellow.

Gills of Hygrophorus hypothejus - Herald of Winter

Gills

Waxy, decurrent, fairly broad and distant; white with yellowish edges.

Stem

White with yellow flecks, mainly near the apex; cylindrical, 4 to 7cm long, 0.9 to 1.5cm in diameter.

Spores of Hygrophorus chrysodon

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 7-9 x 4-4.5µm.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Odour mushroomy; taste variably mild to bitter and so not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Ectomycorrhizal, found under two- and three-needle pine trees, often beside forest tracks or paths.

Season

September to December and occasionally into January in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

The Ivory Woodwax, Hygrophorus eburneus, is whitish without yellow flecks.

Culinary Notes

This uncommon to rare woodland mushroom is reported to be edible, but because of its relative rarity it is not generally gathered for its culinary value. We have no recipes for this species.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Funga Nordica, Henning Knudsen and Jan Vesterholt, 2008.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Other web authorities on this species

Roger Phillips (UK)

Michael Kuo (USA)

Marek Snowarski (Poland)

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