I make no apology for the fact that you will be seeing increasing numbers of fungi on this blog in the coming months. For me, they provide the cheery colours and intriguing shapes in the landscape after the glory of the wildflowers has faded and, even if you don’t particularly like fungi, there will be pretty pictures to peruse.
The Blackening waxcaps (scientific name Hygrocybe conica) have been some of the first to appear in my local waxcap hotspot, Cathays Cemetery. The fact that its 110-acre grounds have remained largely undisturbed since the cemetery closed to new burials about 35 years ago means its grassy spaces are ideal for waxcaps, as the hygrocybe species are sensitive both to pollution and to agricultural chemicals.
Blackening waxcaps start life in a variety of colours, from yellow and orange through to red – sometimes all those shades in just one little mushroom – then, as they age, they blacken, eventually turning jet black. As you might guess from the ‘conica’ in their scientific name, they have a conical shape, so I think you can see why they are often called the Witch’s Hat waxcap. Meetings of their covens are happening all over Europe right now!