Species of the Month - September 2013

Parrot Waxcap

Hygrocybe psittacina

September is the waxcap month, when unfertilised grasslands, be they lawns, churchyards, or hills grazed by sheep, become studded with brightly-coloured mushrooms.  One of the easiest waxcaps to recognise is the Parrot Waxcap with its unique green colouring.

The amount of green on each fruitbody is very variable.  Any part of cap, stem and gills can be green, and any part can lack the green and look yellowish, orange or dull pinkish-brown.

Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina   Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina

Even without any green the species can be recognised.  The cap and the stem are both extremely slimy.  The LH pic above shows the gelatinous coating forming a transparent margin as it goes over the cap edge.  The stem is so slimy that it will slip through your fingers if you try to hold it.

Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina

The main confusion species is Hygrocybe laeta, the Heath Waxcap, which is also very slimy and can be green at the top of the stem - but nowhere else.  A big difference between the Parrot and Heath Waxcaps is that on the Parrot Waxcap the gills go strongly upwards as they meet the stem.  In the Heath Waxcap the gills turn down as they meet the stem.

No other waxcap species show any green.  In the photo above the gills are green so it has to be the Parrot Waxcap.  The cap is broken but if it was put back into shape the ascending gills would be evident.

Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina



Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina

The LH pic above shows green at the stem-top only.  This could in theory be Heath Waxcap, but because the gills clearly go upwards as they near the stem it has to be Parrot.  The RH pic once again shows the gelatinous cuticle forming a transparent rim to the cap.

Hygrocybe psittacina var psittacina

Finally an amazing flash photo by Robert of Parrot Waxcaps with totally green caps and stems, in the unusual habitat of woodland, on our recent Lismore foray.

Thanks to Robert MacPherson for this photo and to Jan Hamilton for the first four photos.


Please send in your Parrot Waxcap sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your waxcap, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LORN forum and let me know it is there.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat   


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

6 Sep: found by Cynthia at Balameanach, Mull

7 Sep: found by Cynthia at Kintra, Mull

9 Sep: found by Cynthia at Knock, Mull

9 Sep: found by Cynthia at Killiechronan, Mull

12 Sep: found by Jan at Dalnatrat

13 Sep: found by Carl at Taynuilt and at Inverawe

23 Sep: found by Liz on Lismore

24 Sep: found by Carl on LNHG field trip at Appin

25 Sep: found by Cynthia at Glencoe

28 Sep: found by Cynthia on Coll

29 Sep: found by Carl near Kilmartin


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth

Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
May 2013 - Early Purple Orchid
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Mar 2013 - Oak Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort

Jan 2013 - Willow Jelly Button & Birch Jelly Button
Dec 2012 - Dice Lichen
Nov 2012 - Feathered Thorn
Oct 2012 - Dryad's Saddle
Sep 2012 - Tawny Grisette
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated