Waxcap and other fungi near Stourbridge - an Update

John Bingham

In April 2011 Rosemary Winnall reported in Worcestershire Record (Winnall 2011) the discovery in 2009 of a waxcap grassland, or rather a series of waxcap garden lawns at Broome near Hagley, Worcestershire. The owner David Taft was very obliging and allowed further access in the autumn of 2011 when Rosemary asked several mycologists to help with the survey of the fungal mycota of David's lawns. Little did we know what would develop from this waxcap survey. Rosemary has asked me to report the findings.

The four lawns date from about the time the house was built around 1906 and appear to have been landscaped as they are flat but on slightly different levels. The largest is about 0.1ha in area. The soil is derived from the sandstone typical of the Kidderminster area and would naturally support acid grassland or heath. The lawns are dominated by mosses with some lichen patches suggesting semi-improved grassland such as NVC U1 (Festuca ovina-Agrostis capillaris-Rumex acetosella grassland), but generally more characteristic of MG6 (Lolium perenne - Cynosurus cristatus grassland), albeit with a very moss dominated sward. Botanically the lawns were not particularly rich supporting mainly rosette forming species such as Cat's-ear Hypochaeris radicata. No fertilisers or chemicals had been used for many years, if ever?

I made my first visit on the 15th November 2011 together with Rosemary and Denise Bingham. Rosemary had already recorded good numbers of Hygrocybe calyptriformis (Pink Waxcap) the previous week. Waxcaps were present in good numbers, and recording was carried out. After searching the first lawn I moved to the second larger lawn and after about 10 minutes I spotted a small fungus I was familiar with: Squamanita paradoxa (Powdercap Strangler). I could hardly believe it. At first three were found then after some excitement by all concerned Rosemary found some more specimens making at total of nine fruiting bodies. We believe this is the first county record for the species.

Squamanita pardoxa is listed as Vulnerable in Red Data (RDB) List edition 1 and Near Threatened in RDB List edition 2. It appears to occur at 15 sites in the UK and I personally have been responsible for finding two sites back in 2005 (Bingham & Bingham 2005). Denise and I had added another two sites from Shropshire in 2011 (Titterstone and Brown Clee Hills), that is excluding the site at Broome. Globally the fungus is rare with most records coming from Norway and Sweden. What makes S. paradoxa particularly interesting is the fact it is a parasite on other fungi, within the Cystoderma genus and in particular C. amianthinun (Earthy Powdercap) that appears to be the host for all UK specimens. It takes over its host and is a gall or 'cecidiocarp' first described in 1948 but not fully understood until 1965 (Redhead et al.1984) when it was described further. S. paradoxa is a member of the Tricholomataceae family with 10 species in total world-wide.

It grows with the stem of the Cystoderma and replaces the upper stem and cap of the orange coloured Cystoderma with its own greyish cap. Exactly how is still not understood but Gareth Griffith is undertaking research at Aberystwyth University (Matheny & Griffith 2010). I forwarded a photo of the Broome find to Gareth and immediately came a request for a specimen for his DNA research at Aberystwyth. Several specimens were sent and are now in culture with Cystoderma to see how the ceidicarp develops with the Cystoderma host.

A return visit was made to Broome on the 17 September with David Antrobus who was identifying Entoloma fungi, Mark Lawley to look at bryophytes and Brett Westwood who had an idea for a BBC Radio 4 item on grassland fungi. All this was much to the surprise and interest of David Taft and his gardener David Elder, who were both very helpful and welcoming to our strange antics. In due course Brett recorded a feature with Rosemary and me on grassland fungi, duly broadcast on the TheLiving World programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/search/?q=Powdercap strangler or http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16029977) with my photograph of S.paradoxa on the BBC Nature webpage.

In Fig. 1. note the orange colour of the lower stipe which is the Earthy Powdercap Cystoderma amianthinun forming a stocking-like ring above which is the grey Powdercap Strangler Squamanita paradoxa stipe and cap.

Of course we did record the waxcaps with (total for all years) 14 Hygrocybe species, nine Clavariod, one Geoglossaceae and three Entolomas. (See Table 1).

This is a very respectable list given that a score of 10-11 Hygrocybe species, 5-6 Clavariod, 4 or more Geoglossium and 8-9 Entolomas are considered to make a site of national importance. (Nitare 1988). David Boertmann in his book on Hygrocybe has a table showing a score of between 11-15 Hygrocybe as being of regional importance and with 16-20 species being of national importance. (Boertmann 1996).

Of course there will be more to discover, certainly Entolomas were under recorded due to the dry weather and a late flush in 2011. More recording would certainly be of interest at such a rich site.

Name of fungusAssociated OrganismMediumEcosystemFrequency Date
Agaricus augustusGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Arrhenia retirugaMosssoil mossGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Auriscalpium vulgarePinusconeGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Calocybe carneaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Clitocybe fragransGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Clitocybe rivulosaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Conocybe apalaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Cystoderma amianthinumGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Dermoloma cuneifoliumGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Entoloma infulaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Entoloma jubatumGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Galerina clavataGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Galerina vittiformisGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Galerna pumilaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Hygrocybe calyptriformisGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Hygrocybe ceraceaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Hygrocybe chlorophanaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe coccineaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Hygrocybe flavipesGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe irrigata (uguinosus) Gramineae soil grass Grassland lawn Rare 15/11/2011
Hygrocybe laeta var. laetaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe miniata (strangula) Gramineae soil grass Grassland lawn Rare 15/11/2011
Hygrocybe pratensisGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Hygrocybe psittacinaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Hygrocybe puniceaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe reidiiGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe russocoriaceaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Hygrocybe virgineaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Hygrophoropsis aurantiacumPinussoil grassGardenOccasional17/11/2011
Inocybe pusio Pinussoil bareGardenOccasional15/11/2011
Inocybe sindoniaPinusbare soilGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Laccaria laccata Pinussoil grassGardenOccasional15/11/2011
Lactarius deliciosusPinussoil needleGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Lactarius glyciosmusPinussoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Mycena aetitesGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Mycena avenaceaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Mycena clavularisGramineaeconeGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Mycena flavoalbaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Mycena puraGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Panaeolina foeniseciiGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Panaeolus olivaceusGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Paxillus involutusAngiospermsoilGardenRare17/11/2011
Rickenella fibulaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Rickenella swartziiGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Russula gracillimaBetulasoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Russula nigricansBetulasoil grassGardenRare17/11/2011
Squamanita paradoxaGramineaesoil mossGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Stropharia caeruleaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional17/11/2011
Stropharia pseudocyaneaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare17/11/2011
Suillus luteusPinussoil needleGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Bjerkandera adustaAngiospermstumpGardenRare17/11/2011
Clarvaria acutaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Clarvaria fragilisGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Clavaria argillaceaGramineaesoil mossGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Clavulinopsis corniculataGramineaesoil mossGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Clavulinopsis fusiformisGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Clavulinopsis helvolaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnFrequent15/11/2011
Clavulinopsis laeticolorGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Clavulinopsis luteoalbaGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnOccasional15/11/2011
Geoglossum fallaxGramineaesoil mossGrassland lawnRare08/11/2010
Hypomyces aurantiusPolyporefruit bodyGrassland lawnRare15/11/2011
Phellinus pomaceusPrunusbranchGardenRare17/11/2011
Polyporus durusAngiospermstumpGardenRare17/11/2011
Ramariopsis kunzeiGramineaesoil grassGrassland lawnRare30/11/2009
Auricularia auricula-judaeSambucusstemgardenRare17/11/2011
Peziza badiaAngiospermsoil baregardenRare15/11/2011
Rhyisma acerinumAcerleafgardenFrequent17/11/2011
Trochila ilicinaIlexleafgardenFrequent17/11/2011
Sebacina incrustansGramineaesoil grassGardenRare15/11/2011

Table 1 Fungi recorded at The Croft, Broome, Worcestershire, November 2011 by John Bingham, Denise Bingham, Rosemary Winnall, David Antrobus. Site SO897790, garden lawn, mossy, unfertilized for 50 years.

In addition to the fungi we have Mark Lawley's list of associated bryophytes.

The lawns consisted mainly of moss but with no notable species. Mark recorded the following 39 bryophytes from the garden. Nearly all the moss in the lawns is Rhytididadelphus squarrosus, with much less Atrichum undulatum, Brachythecium albicans, B. rutabulum, Hypnum cupressiforme, H. jutlandicum, Plagiomnium rostratum, P. undulatum, Polytrichum juniperinum, P. piliferum, and Lophocolea bidentata. Hypnum jutlandicum and the two Polytrichum species were growing only in sandy (or sandier) soil in the lawn beside the drive. There was also a noticeable amount of Cladonia lichen there too.


Many thanks to David Taft for his kindness and access permission.


Bingham, J. & Bingham, D. 2005. Squamanita paradoxa in Shropshire. Field Mycology 6(1):11–12

Boertmann, D. 1996. The Genus Hygrocybe. Fungi of Northern Europe. Danish Mycological Society.

Mathey, P M. & Griffith, G. W. 2010. Mycoparasitism between Squamanita paradoxa and Cystoderma amianthinum (Cystodermateae, Agaricales). Published online.

Nitare, J. 1988. Jordtunger, en svampgrupp pa tillbakagang I naturliga fodermarker. Svensk. Bot. Tidskr. 82:341-368.

Redhead, S.A., Ammirati, J.F., Walker, G.R., Norvell, L.L. & Puccio, M.B. 1994. Squamanita contortipes, the Rosetta Stone of a mycoparasitic agaric genus. Can. J. Bot. 72:1812–1824.

Winnall, R. 2011. Waxcap Fungi Near Stourbridge. Worcestershire Record 30:35-36.


Fig. 1. Squamanita paradoxa. John Bingham

Fig. 1. Squamanita paradoxa. John Bingham