E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Hygrocybe conica (Scop.: Fr.) P. Kumm.
blackening waxy-cap

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #18886)

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Distribution of Hygrocybe conica
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Species Information

Hygrocybe conica is identified by red to yellow, dry to moist or slightly viscid, conic cap, adnexed or free gills that are whitish or yellow to orange and may be tinged olive, dry to moist or slightly viscid stem that is red to yellow or olive-yellow or pallid, and the tendency of all parts to blacken when handled. It is common in the Pacific Northwest and found in BC (Redhead(5)), WA, OR, ID, (Hesler). Collections were also examined from NS, ON, QC, CA, CO, FL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NJ, NM, NY, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Japan, (Hesler).
1-5(12)cm across, bluntly to sharply conic, expanding when old but usually retaining pointed umbo, margin sometimes uplifted when old; "sometimes red but more often orange, yellow, or olive-yellow", blackening when old or upon handling; "smooth, dry to moist or slightly viscid", (Arora), 2-7(9)cm across, "sharply to obtusely conic, sometimes convex with a conic umbo, not expanding"; usually reddish or scarlet-orange around and on umbo, paler orange toward margin, often with distinct olive tints or "citron green" all over, occasionally bright yellow, "ochraceous orange", "zinc orange", "xanthine orange" to "orange rufous", olive-gray to black when old, quickly turning black when bruised or broken; "slightly viscid when moist, soon dry", (in very wet or very dry weather it may be difficult to decide on viscidity), bald or somewhat virgate [radially streaked] when old, "sometimes becoming fibrillose-subscaly from the lacerated cuticle", margin often lobed or incised, sometimes rimose [cracked], (Hesler)
thin, waxy; turning black when old, (Arora), thin, very fragile; colored as surface, blackening, (Hesler)
adnexed or free, broad, thick, soft, waxy; 'usually whitish but sometimes tinged yellow, soon becoming grayish, and finally black', (Arora), nearly free, close, broad, ventricose [broader in middle]; 'nearly white at first, becoming grayish olivaceous, pale yellowish orange or olive yellow' ("orange buff", "sulphur yellow", "olive-ocher"), black when bruised or when old; edges undulate to serrate or eroded, (Hesler), nearly free, close, broad, ventricose; "nearly yellowish at first, becoming grayish olivaceous, pale yellowish orange, or olive yellow", black when bruised or when old, (Largent), whitish or pale yellow, becoming yellow, pinkish-yellow, or olive-orange, bruising black, (Lincoff(2))
(2)4-20cm x 0.3-1(1.5)cm, equal, hollow when old and easily splitting; "pallid to yellow, olive-yellow, orange, or red, with a whitish to gray base, but turning gray or black" when handled or when old; not viscid or only slightly so, usually longitudinally striate and/or twisted, (Arora), (2)6-11(18)cm x 0.5-1(1.5)cm, equal, straight, fragile, splitting, hollow; 'base whitish, remainder dark red, orange, yellow or sordid olive-yellow', becoming black when old or where bruised; moist or dry, non-viscid, bald or with appressed fibrils, often longitudinally striate and twisted, (Hesler)
absent (Arora)
not distinctive (Hesler)
not distinctive (Hesler)
Microscopic spores:
spores 8-14 x 5-7.5 microns, elliptic, smooth; gill trama parallel, (Arora), spores (8)9-12(14) x (5)5.5-6.5(7.5) microns, subelliptic to elliptic, often irregular in shape, smooth, inamyloid; basidia 1-, 2-, 3-, or 4-spored, (28)34-49 x (6)9-11(12) microns; certain 4-spored forms in North America have spores 9-12(14) x 5-7 microns, but other 4-spored forms spores are 7-10 x 4-6 microns, some forms are constantly 2-spored with spores 9-12 x 5-6 microns, and others occur with 1-, 2-, or 3-spored basidia on the same cap (spores 15 x 8 microns have been seen on some of these); pleurocystidia and cheilocystidia none, gill tissue parallel, hyphae 8-18 microns broad, with large lactifers intermingled, yellowish to colorless in iodine; cap cuticle formed by a thin (20-35 microns) poorly organized layer of colorless, gelatinous hyphae that are repent or more or less erect, 5-7 microns broad, cap trama of radial and parallel hyphae with conspicuous lactifers 3-4 microns wide; clamp connections on the hyphae of the cuticle, subhymenium and gill trama, (Hesler)
Spore deposit:
white (Arora)

Habitat / Range

single to scattered or gregarious "on ground in damp places (usually in woods)", (Arora), gregarious or singly; spring, summer, fall, and winter, (Hesler), normally fruits in fall, but occasionally in spring, (Trudell)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Godfrinia conica (Fr.) Maire
Hydrocybe conica (Fr.) Karsten
Hygrocybe pseudoconica J.E. Lange
Hygrophorus conicus (Fr.) Fr.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


not recommended, possibly poisonous, (Arora)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Hesler(1)* (as Hygrophorus, colors in double quotation marks from Ridgway(1)), Largent(4) (as Hygrophorus), Arora(1)*, Phillips(1)*, Lincoff(2)*, Lincoff(1)*, Miller(14)*, Ammirati(1)*, Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1)*, Kibby(1)*, Courtecuisse(1)*, Bessette(2)* (

References for the fungi

General References