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Waxcap Habitats : :


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 (Keizer, 1993).

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; 1982).

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.

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