Waxcap fungi thrive on damp, ‘unimproved’ grassland, or rather grassland which hasn’t be ruined by artificial fertiliser or herbicides. A trip to Emsworthy Mire on Dartmoor becomes a thrill when I spot some.

Aren’t their colours intense?

They might be Crimson Waxcaps, Hygrocybe punicea:

There are orange coloured Meadow Waxcaps here, Hygrocybe pratensis:

I’ve seen them before too:

A day out at Challacombe Farm shows another wonderful collection of Waxcaps. The surprise of the intensity of their colour against grass is always a joy:

This more delicate white Waxcap is an interesting find. Unfortunately I forgot to sniff this one. The Cedarwood Waxcap, Hygrocybe russocoriacea, smells of lead pencils. The Snowy Waxcap, Hygrocybe virginea, doesn’t.

Challacombe Farm Waxcap - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The gills of Waxcaps are quite distinctive. I particularly like this artistic red to yellow fade.

There are Blackening Waxcaps, Hygrocybe conica, on the drive home. I’ve seen them before. They are known as Witches’ Hats:

They look characterful in this sunshine:

There are more white Waxcaps here.

I forget to smell them, too.

Back at Emsworthy Mire a few days later and there is a hugely overgrown Meadow Waxcap with veins on the gills which make them look like orange segments:

Waxcap - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

And there are intense yellow to red coloured Waxcaps splitting in the short grass.

Waxcap - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

If someone would like to buy me David Boertmann’s book: ‘The genus Hygrocybe, 2nd revised edition’ (2010) for Christmas, that would be very kind. Then I might actually be able to identify them correctly!

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