The Crimson Waxcap (Hygrocybe punicea) can be found in pasture growing in small groups or rings.
Waxcaps include some of our most colourful species. To some people, they have even earned the title of ‘orchids of the fungal kingdom’. The New Forest has large areas of unimproved grassland that has not been spread with any artificial fertiliser, and the sward is also closely grazed by the ponies and cattle, thus providing the ideal habit for these pretty waxcaps.
They are small mushrooms (6 or 7cms high) growing in groups or solitary, with often several different species growing on the same patch of grassland. They come in a variety of colours – all shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, black, white, purple, shades of brown and even shades of green. However they are all different species of the same genus. The cap may be dry, greasy or viscid and some of them have a definite smell such as honey, leather, garlic or even burnt rubber, which all aids in identification.
All the fruiting bodies can be seen on the grasslands in the New Forest from late summer through to the autumn, and certainly before any night frosts bring an end to their appearance.
The brilliant red colour though, as with all Waxcaps, begins to fade to a red/ orange after a few days.