Wonderful waxcaps at Golden Cap

A stunning scarlet red waxcap mushroom

A riot of colour is brightening up the grasslands on the Golden Cap Estate. It’s a family of fungi known as Waxcaps.

Waxcaps come in a glorious range of colours; oranges, reds, yellows, pinks and even green. They have equally colourful names such as splendid waxcap, glutinous waxcap, and scarlet waxcap.

Their distinctive and visible components make them one of the easier grassland fungi to identify.  As well as being brightly coloured, their textures are interesting - fibrous, waxy, felt like, buttery, sticky or even slippery.

This pink waxcap has lovely scalloped edging
The pink waxcap has scalloped edges

In November 2016, the Golden Cap Ecology team and volunteers carried out fungi surveys and were delighted to find 21 species of waxcaps across the Estate, and 11 other species of grassland fungi. This is the largest number recorded here, making Golden Cap a site of national importance for grassland fungi. 

Our volunteers undertook waxcap training to help with identification
A volunteer studying a waxcap guide during training on the Estate

The most commonly found were the Golden, Parrot and Meadow. Interestingly, several species which are characteristic of ancient, semi-natural grasslands were also found, such as the Pink, Glutinous, Crimson and Earthy waxcap.  

The parrot waxcap is tougher to spot in the grassland
The orange coloured parrot waxcap is tougher to spot in the grassland

These surveys are important as they tell us about the condition of the grasslands at here and, along with data from plant and animal surveys (mostly undertaken by our dedicted volunteers), will drive the way we manage the land at Golden Cap. This helps us make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the amazing wildlife on the Estate.

Taking a closer look at a fallen golden waxcap - but please don't pick them!
A hand gently holding a waxcap between thumb and forefinger

We’ll be doing more surveys this year, so if you are interested in volunteering with our Ecology team, please contact goldencap@nationaltrust.org.uk.

With thanks to Ruth Worsley, Tony Raw & the Golden Cap Ecology Officer Gemma Baron.