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Hygrocybe intermedia (Pass.) Fayod - Fibrous Waxcap

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

HYgrocybe intermedia, Hampshire, England

The Fibrous Waxcap is distinguished by its large size, dry scurfy cap surface and dry fibrous stem. This waxcap is an uncommon to occasional find in most of Britain and Ireland except in some parts of Wales, where it is more frequently recorded.

Hygrocybe intermedia, Fibrous Waxcap, southern England

Distribution

Hygrocybe intermedia occurs throughout Britain and Ireland, where it is most often seen in unimproved grassland and, occasionally, in sand-dune systems. This species occurs on mainland Europe from Scandinavia down to southern France and Italy, but it is uncommon to rare throughout its range.

Hygrocybe intermedia - Fibrous Waxcap

Taxonomic history

Originally described in 1872 by Italian botanist Giovani Passerini (1816 - 1893), who named it Hygrophorus intermedius, the Fibrous Waxcap was relocated to its present genus in 1889 by Swiss mycologist Victor Fayod (1860 - 1900), thereby establishing its currently-accepted scientific name as Hygrocybe intermedia.

Synonyms of Hygrocybe intermedia include Godfrinia intermedia (Pass.) Herink and Pseudohygrocybe intermedia (Pass.) Kovalenko, Mikol.

Fibrous Waxcap Hygrocybe intermedia showing gills and stem

Etymology

The genus Hygrocybe is so named because fungi in this group are always very moist. Hygrocybe means 'watery head'. The specific epithet intermedia comes from the Latin inter and media which translate to 'in the middle'.

Identification guide

Cap of Hygrocybe intermedia

Cap

3 to 9cm in diameter, the cap is broadly conical at first, becoming convex and eventually almost flat, sometimes splitting at the margin. Initially the cap colour is reddish, becoming orange-yellow with a paler margin at maturity. The cap surface is dry and scurfy with radial fibrils. Flesh yellowish.

Gills of Hygrocybe intermedia

Gills

Adnexed or free, thick, moderately spaced, whitish to pale yellow sometimes with an orange tinge; gill edges often serrated.

Stem

Orange-yellow on the surface and streaked with reddish longitudinal fibres. Dry, cylindrical and uusually hollow, with no stem ring; 0.5 to 2cm in diameter and 3 to 9cm tall.

Spore of Hygrocybe intermedia

Spores

Ovoid, pyriform (pear shaped) or broadly ellipsoidal, 8-11 x 5-6.5μm; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

In unimproved grassland on alkaline to mildly acidic soils.

Season

July to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Hygrocybe chlorophana has a smooth cap that is slimy in wet weather.

Hygrocybe reidii has a smooth cap; its crushed gills smell like honey.

Hygrocybe acutoconica is usually more yellow and has a smooth cap surface but a fibrous stem; its spores are more cylindrical (Q value typically 1.9 compared with typically 1.6 for Hygrocybe intermedia.)

Culinary Notes

On a Europe-wide scale waxcap fungi are now quite rare, and so although in western Britain many of the acid-soil species are still plentiful most mycologists deplore the suggestion that any of these lovely fungi should be gathered to eat. The Fibrous Waxcap is an uncommon find and of no significant cullinary value.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Fungi of Northern Europe, Volume 1 - The Genus Hygrocybe, David Boertmann, 2010.

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.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding and David Kelly.

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