Waxcaps in Europe are generally found in unimproved pasture,
old lawns and grassy churchyards, being more common in the
wetter western areas. Whereas in other parts of the world,
e.g. North America the same fungi are found in woodlands.
Waxcaps are found on a range of grasslands, ranging from
old lawns and graveyards, to upland and calcareous haymeadows.
Mainly through the still ongoing waxcap grassland surveys
in Wales (Rotheroe et al., 1996; Rotheroe, 2001), Scotland
(Newton et al., 2000), Northern Ireland (McHugh et al., in
press) and England (Thompson, 2000), a significant body of
data is being accumulated as to the types of grassland which
contain the greatest diversity of waxcaps.
A feature common to all sites with diverse waxcap populations
is that they are grazed or mown regularly and that there has
been no recent fertilizer application.
Ploughing is the most drastic form of disturbance for a grassland
and many (possibly most) of the best 'waxcap grasslands' have
probably experienced ploughing at some point in the past.
However, conclusive proof (by examination of soil profiles)
of the total absence of ploughing is difficult to obtain and
it appears that many good waxcap grasslands were ploughed
during and immediately after World War II.
The absence of mowing or grazing also has a deleterious effect
on fruit body production, ultimately leading to successional
changes in the plant communities with which waxcaps are associated
Another consistent feature of habitats in which waxcaps occur
(in the UK at least) is the presence of moss cover (usually
Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus in Wales). Arnolds (1981;
There are also problems of distinctiveness, longevity and
visibility, all of which can affect how frequently rare species
are recorded. H. calyptriformis is an example, which
is considerably less rare in the UK than in other European
countries, but which is unmistakable in appearance (definitely
the easiest waxcap to identify).
Recent interest in waxcap fungi has led to the discovery
of many more UK sites for this fungus, such that even recent
distribution maps underestimate how widespread H. calyptriformis
is in some areas.
To help in the identification process please use our waxcap
key and glossary.