Sunday, 31 August 2008

Hygrocybe intermedia

One of the few things that the UK seems to do really well is waxcaps (Hygrocybe sp.). They are one of the more spectacular groups of fungi, coming in a range of very vivid colours. In Europe they are associated with grasslands, though elsewhere in the world they tend to occur in woodlands.

The first time I encountered Hygrocybe intermedia was in 2000, on the sand dunes just a few metres from Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk. At the time, the species was listed on the provisional UK red data list for fungi. Although it has since been removed, it's evidently not that common, with only 410 records on the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland.

This specimen was found at Brown Robin, a Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve near Grange over Sands, where H. intermedia was the most abundant fruiting fungus present. As fungi go, it is an unmistakable waxcap, in the Northern Europe at least, due to it's colour, squamulose pileus (cap) and fibrillose stipe (stem).

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