Hygrocybe quieta (Kühner) Singer    
'Oily Waxcap'

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Order: Agaricales

British distribution: Throughout Britain.
World distribution: Europe.

Hygrocybe chlorophana
Hygrocybe quieta in hill pasture, Muirshiel, Renfrewshire, October 2004.

Hygrocybe quieta is one of our more common waxcap fungi and a characteristic species of waxcap grasslands. Like most waxcaps it is a species of ancient, 'unimproved' pastures that have not been reseeded or subjected to chemical fertilisers. It is also occasional in open woodland.

Identification and variation
H. quieta is a medium-sized waxcap, cap typically 1–6 cm in diameter, sometimes larger. The fruitbody is dry with a somewhat greasy texture, the cap initially orange, generally fading to a dull orange-yellow with maturity. The stem and gills are similarly orange-yellow. The gills are variable in attachment but commonly rather narrowly attached to the stem (adnexed). The most notable field character is, however, the oily smell, particularly when the gills are rubbed or the fruitbody has been kept in a container.

A full description is provided by Boertmann (2010). This includes microscopic characters, including the spores with a characteristic median constriction.

There are several other orange to red Hygrocybe species of fairly similar appearance and microscopic examination is recommended and sometimes essential for certain identification. The oily smell of H. quieta is distinctive once known, but could be confused with the smell of decay in moribund material. The orange variant of H. chlorophana is not dissimilar, and yellower variants of the normally red H. reidii can also resemble it, though H. reidii generally has more broadly attached to decurrent gills and its own distinctive smell of honey when the gills are rubbed. Both of these species have ovoid spores with little or no median constriction.

Boertmann, D. (2010). The genus Hygrocybe, 2nd revised edition. Fungi of Northern Europe vol. 1, Danish Mycological Society.

© A.J. Silverside
Page first hosted at, October 2003; transferred to November 2009, last updated May 2014
For text layout and clarity it is best viewed with Internet Explorer
Return to main Index
Conditions of Use home page