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Hygrophorus hedrychii (Velen.) K. Kult - Sweet Woodwax

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

Hygrophorus hedrychii, Sweet Woodwax

A very rare woodwax of broadleaf and occasionally coniferous woodland, the Sweet Waxcap is a mycorrhizal species most often recorded in ancient or semi-natural woodland with mature broadleaf trees.

Hygrophorus hedrychii, southrn England

Distribution

Hygrophorus hedrychii is rare in Britain and Ireland. The Sweet Woodwax is also found in northern and central mainland Europe.

Taxonomic history

The basionym of this species was established in 1920 when it was described scientifically and named Limacium hedrychii by Czech mycologist Josef Velenovský (1858 - 1949). The currently-accepted scientific name Hygrophorus hedrychii dates from a 1956 publication by Czech mycologist Karel Kult (1917-1998).

Synonyms of Hygrophorus hedrychii include Limacium hedrychii Velen. and Hygrophorus eburneus var. carneipes Kühner.

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 to touch.

The specific epithet hedrychii honours Ehren von Job. Hedrych, for many years head gardener at the Botanical Garden of the Czech University in Prague.

Identification guide

Cap of Hygrophorus hedrychii, Sweet Woodwax

Cap

White or ivory with buff tints in the centre; convex, becoming flat with a central umbo; very slimy; 3 to 6cm across; margin involute.

Gills of Hygrophorus hedrychii, the Sweet Woodwax

Gills

White at first, developing a yellowish tinge; distant; decurrent.

Stem

White; tapering slightly towards base; usually curved; 3 to 7cm long, 0.5 to 1cm diameter. The stems of mature specimens usually become hollow and have pinkish-cream flesh.

Spores of Hygrophorus hedrychii

Spores

Broadly ellipsoidal, 6-9 x 4-5μm.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Strong odour said to be reminiscent of crushed Goat Moth larvae - similar to Hygrophorus cossus; taste sweet.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorrhizal; in broadleaf and mixed woodland, most often under birch or beech on calcareous soils.

Season

September to November in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

The Snowy Waxcap, Hygrocybe virginea, is a common and gregarious little grassland mushroom with a white or ivory cap.

Culinary Notes

Because of its rarity the Sweet Woodwax should not be collected except for essential scientific study.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

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.

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