Hygrocybe irrigata (Pers.: Fr.) Bon    
   (= Hygrocybe unguinosa (Fr.: Fr.) P.Karst.)   
   (= Gliophorus unguinosus (Fr.: Fr.) Kovalenko)   
Slimy Waxcap

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Order: Agaricales

British distribution: Throughout Britain.
World distribution: Europe, North America.

Hygrocybe irrigata
Hygrocybe irrigata in upland pasture over basalt, Muirshiel, Renfrewshire, October 2004.

Hygrocybe irrigata is a frequent waxcap and occurs with other species of the genus in waxcap grasslands, generally in 'unimproved' pastures that have not been reseeded or subjected to chemical fertilisers. It has long been better known as H. unguinosa.

Identification and variation
H. irrigata is notable for its extremely slimy cap and stem, making it difficult to keep hold of when it is collected. When fresh, the cap is dark, smokey grey, 1–5cm in diameter, and the stem is paler and also pure grey, but as it ages the cap becomes grey-brown with darker striations, the stem also taking on brownish tones. The gills are whitish to pale grey, broadly attached to the stem or shortly decurrent, and lack mucilaginous edges or a gelatinous subhymenium (compare H. laeta). Generally, fruitbodies occur in clusters.

The initially dark, very slimy fungus has been known as H. unguinosa and some authorities, notably Arnolds (1990) have considered H. irrigata to be a separate, much rarer species, with a less viscid, paler brown cap and differences in the cap cuticle structure. Boertmann (1996) disagreed and regarded these characters as the result of desiccation and erosion. Recent consensus (Candusso, 1997; Boertmann, 2010) is to recognise a single species, for which H. irrigata is the correct name.

•   Arnolds, E.J.M., (1990). Hygrocybeae, in Bas, C., et al. (eds.), Flora agaricina Neerlandica, 2, A.A.Balkema, Rotterdam, pp.70-133.
•   Boertmann, D. (1996). The genus Hygrocybe. Fungi of Northern Europe vol. 1, Danish Mycological Society.
•   Boertmann, D. (2010). The genus Hygrocybe, 2nd revised edition. Fungi of Northern Europe vol. 1, Danish Mycological Society.
•   Candusso, M. (1997). Hygrophorus s.l., Fungi Europaei 6, Libreria Basso, Alassio.

© A.J. Silverside
Uploaded June 2014
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