Species of the Month - October 2016
October is the peak season
for waxcaps, specialist fungi of unfertilised grasslands in which LNHG
has a particular interest. Blackening Waxcap is one of the
commonest species, with a wider habitat range than most of the others.
As well as grasslands it can occur in dunes, marshes, bogs, woods,
heaths and riverbanks (Boertmann 1995). It turns black with age or
when damaged or bruised, which makes it easy to distinguish from other
kinds of waxcap.
fresh it has a conical cap with radial fibres, rather sticky at first
but soon dry. The colours are usually yellow, orange, red, or some
mix of these. The stem is yellow or orange and beautifully
translucent when young, smooth with vertical veins. The gills are
whitish at first, becoming yellow or orange. They curve up before
reaching the stem and often stop short of reaching it at all, an unusual
feature in a waxcap. Most other waxcaps with the gills ascending
still have them firmly attached to the stem.
found before it has begun to blacken, it could be mistaken for the
Persistent Waxcap (H persistens or H autoconica) but the Blackening
Waxcap can always be made to blacken by bruising it and then waiting a
This one has begun to turn
black on the stem and at the top of the cap. The stem becomes more
fibrous with age.
More waxcaps in the process of blackening. The cap often turns
brown before it turns black.
Finally one with the whole cap black, and another that has turned black completely.
situation is too good to last, and it is likely that DNA testing will
result in the species being split again, so make the most if it while
you can! If you take photos of your waxcap and note its habitat
then it may well be possible to attribute your record to one of the
post-split species when these are finalised. If not, the record is
still of value as H conica counts along with all other waxcaps in
assessing the conservation value of grasslands.
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Oct 4: Found by Jan at Cuil Bay
Oct 5: Found by Cynthia in St Johns Churchyard, Ballachulish
Oct 23: Found by Cynthia on LNHG Waxcap Wander at Balindore
Nov 2: Found by me at Glencoe
Nov 5: Found by Jan on LNHG field trip at Kilcheran, Lismore