Elite life



   Hygrophorus is the type genus for the Hygrophoraceae. Members of this genus are distinguished from other members of this family by the dull coloration (tending towards whites, beiges, and dull oranges or yellows) of their fruiting bodies and microscopically by their divergent lamellar trama.


Hygrophorus hypothejus

   Hygrophorus hypothejus is recognized by a viscid (when moist) brownish cap usually with yellowish or orange tones, cream to pale yellow decurrent gills, and a slimy lower stipe. It is common along the coast north of San Francisco fruiting under Beach Pine (Pinus contorta) but relatively rare in the immediate S.F. Bay Area where Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata), a three-needle pine, predominates.
   Pileus: Cap 2.5-7.0 cm broad, convex, to convex-umbonate, expanding to nearly plane, the disc in age slightly umbonate or depressed; margin at first incurved to inrolled, becoming decurved, then plane to raised at maturity; surface viscid when moist, smooth to occasionally wrinkled, the disc brown to olive-brown, becoming yellow-brown to apricot-brown towards the margin; context white, soft, relatively thin; odor and taste mild.
   Lamellae: Gills decurrent, subdistant, moderately thick, waxy, at first cream, becoming yellowish to peach-colored.
   Stipe: Stipe 4-8 cm long, 0.5-1.2 cm thick, equal or narrowed at the base; surface at apex fibrillose, cream-yellow, sometimes pinkish to apricot; viscid-fibrillose below, pallid to colored like the cap margin; partial veil fibrillose-glutinous, leaving an evanescent slime ring high on the stipe.
   Spores: Spores 7.5-10 x 4-5 μm, ellipsoid, smooth, inamyloid; spore print white.
   Edibility: Edible, but untried locally.

Hygrophorus chrysodon

   Hygrophorus chrysodon (when fresh) is a gorgeous white waxy cap delicately decorated with yellow flakes on the cap margin and the stem apex. With age, however, the yellow ornamentation can fade, and in rainy conditions the flakes are often washed away, leaving a nondescript whitish mushroom that is difficult to separate from other white species of Hygrophorus. Growing alone, scattered, or gregariously; summer and fall (over winter in warmer climates); fairly widely distributed in North America.
   Cap: 3-8 cm; convex when young, becoming broadly convex, broadly bell-shaped, or more or less flat; slimy when fresh; white, overlaid with yellow to golden or orange-yellow granules along the margin; the margin at first inrolled.
   Gills: Attached to the stem or running down it; distant or nearly so; white; waxy.
   Stem: 3-10 cm long; up to 2 cm thick; equal above, tapering to base; when fresh sheathed with slime, at least over the lower portion; the apex dotted with granules like those on the cap margin, sometimes aggregated into an imperfect ring zone; whitish overall.
   Flesh: White; unchanging; soft.

Spruce Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus pudorinus)

   Solitary to scattered under conifers, e.g. Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens); fruiting from early to mid-winter; fairly common along the coast from Mendocino northward. A beautiful mushroom, this Hygrophorus is recognized by a robust stature, pinkish, viscid cap, pinkish-tinged adnate to subdecurrent gills, and stipe with a bright yellow base. In a monograph of California Hygrophorus, Largent calls our variety Hygrophorus pudorinus var. fragrans f. fragrans. He includes two additional forms distinguished primarily by color and habitat. Hygrophorus pudorinus var. fragrans f. pallidus has a whitish cap and gills and occurs in the Red Fir zone of the Sierra, while Hygrophorus pudorinus var. pudorinus f. pudorinus has a pinkish-buff cap, apical stipe scales that redden with age or drying, and sometimes a yellow stipe base.

   Pileus: Cap 6-14 cm broad, convex, expanding to plano-convex; margin at first inrolled, finely pubescent, becoming decurved to slightly raised at maturity; surface viscid when moist, glabrous, pinkish-salmon to pinkish-buff at the disc, paler at the margin; context firm, up to 4.0 cm thick at the disc, whitish, tinged pink especially near the cuticle, sometimes yellowing when bruised; odor faint, pungent; taste mild, of "mushrooms".
   Lamellae: Gills subdecurrent, becoming adnate in age, close to subdistant, edges sharp, otherwise thick, intervenose, pinkish-cream; lamellulae 3-4 seried.
   Stipe: Stipe 12-15 cm long, 1.5-2.0 cm thick, solid, fleshy, equal except for a pointed base, surface of apex whitish, squamulose, the lower portion dry to subviscid, fibrillose-striate, cream-colored, often flushed pink, yellowing where bruised, the base chrome-yellow; partial veil absent.
   Spores: Spores 7.5-10.5 x 5.0-6.0 μm, ellipsoid to tear-shaped, smooth, thin-walled, hilar appendage inconspicuous, inamyloid; spore print white.
   Edibility: Edible, but sometimes of poor quality.

Hygrophorus pustulatus

   Habitat in groups under fir and redwood. Found Europe and in central and western North America and in California. Season August-December. Edible.
   Cap 2-5 cm across, convex with a depressed center and an inrolled margin that becomes arched in maturity; gray-brown with a darker disc; sticky, glutinous when wet, with dark granular scales, especially in the center. Gills decurrent, bluntly adnate, close to subdistant, narrow; white. Stem 40-80 x 3-8 mm, solid or stuffed at the top, slightly enlarged below; whitish flushed with cap color; lower section sticky from remnants of gelatinous universal veil, elsewhere dry with some dark gray pits. Flesh soft, quite thin; white. Odor not distinctive. Taste not distinctive. Spores ellipsoid to ovoid, smooth, 7.5-9.5 x 4.5-5.5 μm. Deposit white.

Hygrophorus russula

   Hygrophorus russula certainly does look like a Russula until you inspect it closely: its flesh is not at all crumbly and brittle like the flesh in russulas. Truth be told, however, it looks a lot more like a russula than a waxy cap, which is what it is. Two of the most well known defining features of waxy caps are slimy caps and thick, waxy gills; Hygrophorus russula does have a slimy cap, but it soon dries out, and the gills are only arguably "thick and waxy". Features defining Hygrophorus russula include the reddish spotting on the mature gills, the habitat under hardwoods, and the fact that the cap and stem often feature streaks and spots of purplish pink shades. Several conifer-loving Hygrophorus species are very close in appearance. Growing scattered or gregariously, sometimes in fairy rings or arcs; late summer and fall (also winter in California); widely distributed in North America.
   Cap: 5-12 cm; convex or round when young, becoming broadly convex to flat; slimy, but often drying out quickly; smooth or finely hairy in places; the margin inrolled and soft or cottony, eventually unrolling; reddish to pinkish, often with streaks or spots of color; often bruising yellow in places, especially near the margin.
   Gills: Attached to the stem or beginning to run down it; close; white when young, soon developing reddish spots or becoming pinkish overall.
   Stem: 3-7 cm long; 1.5-3.5 cm thick; more or less equal; white at first but soon developing the colors of the cap; smooth or finely hairy; solid.
   Flesh: White, or flushed with pink; thick; hard.

Red Waxy Cap, Scarlet Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus coccineus, Hygrocybe coccinea)

   Hygrocybe coccinea is a beautiful, scarlet mushroom with a moist to lubricous cap, reddish-orange gills and usually glabrous, reddish to orange stipe. It fruits late in the mushroom season, often with other colorful waxy caps. Edible. Habitat: Scattered or in small groups in mixed hardwood-conifer forests; fruiting from mid-winter to early spring.
   Pileus: Cap 2.5-5.0 cm broad, conic, becoming obtuse conic, with or without an umbo, occasionally expanding to convex or nearly plane; margin at first incurved, decurved to plane at maturity, sometimes faintly striate; surface glabrous, moist to lubricous, scarlet-red, fainter towards the margin; context up to 5.0 mm thick, soft, colored like the cap surface; odor not distinctive; taste mild.
  Lamellae: Gills adnexed to notched with a descending tooth, subdistant, relatively broad and thick with a waxy aspect, intervenose, yellowish-orange, to reddish-orange, edges lighter than the faces, lamellulae up to four-seried.
Stipe 2.5-5.5 cm long, 0.5-1.0 cm thick, equal, straight to wavy, fragile, hollow, round or flattened with a groove; surface typically glabrous, only occasionally striate, moist, not viscid, colored like the cap, i.e. reddish-orange to yellowish-orange, yellowish at the base; partial veil absent.
   Spores 7.0-9.5 x 4.0-5.0 μm, ellipsoid, smooth, inamyloid; spores white in deposit.


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