We have just spent a fascinating weekend learning all about Waxcaps on the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate. Longshaw has been known for its waxcaps for some time and in a 2003 report was listed as the top site in England. A total of 34 different species of waxcaps have been recorded on the grasslands at Longshaw.
When you actually start to look at them closely, it is possible to work out which is which. I was shown a number of different features to look at, including:
Colour of the cap (the top part) – red/yellow/pink/white/orange/green etc
The overall shape and size of the fungi – does it have a pointed top?
The smell – some smell of honey when bruised, others of garlic, cedar wood or bed bugs (don’t ask!)
Gill detail – do the gills run down the stipe (stem)?
Is the cap and or stem sticky?
Waxcaps look so colourful and have some wonderful names – for example Parrot waxcap, pink ballerina, Snowy waxcap.. see photos below.
There is a excellent blog run by the group of individuals recording the waxcaps (and other fungi) from the Longshaw estate http://longshawfungi.wordpress.com/