Herald of Winter strip

Herald of Winter - Hygrophorus hypothejus

Herald of Winter - Hygrophorus hypothejus

Edible mushroom - intermediate identification

Other common names: Winter Wax Cap, Late Fall Wax Cap

Scientific name meaning: Originating from the Greek Hygros, meaning moist or wet, and phoreus, meaning a bearer. And, Hypo, meaning below, and Theion, meaning brimstone. 

Spore print: White

Pine

Habitat and season

Mycorrhizal with Pine (Pinus spp), and rarely broad leaf trees. It fruits in late Autumn and Winter

Growth and appearance

Herald of Winter can appear as solitary mushrooms or in small groups or troops. It emerges from the ground underneath Pines. It has a glutinous universal veil and fragile partial veil when first emerging

Cap

The brown cap starts off convex or bell-shaped. When mature, the 3 - 5cm wide cap can be flat, slightly depressed or even funnel-like, and can have a small central umbo (bump). The cap margin is slightly in rolled and can retain veil fragments when young. When wet, the cap is slimy, but greasy or sticky when dry.

Gills

Starting off white, then turning pale yellow and pale yellow-brown with age, the gills are distant. They are broadly adnate to decurrent

Stem

The sometimes curved stem is 3 - 7cm long and 0.5 - 1.5cm wide. It is white to pale yellow, and sometimes tinted with orange, and often more deeply coloured at the apex. The apex area is also fibrous and the stem narrows here. There is sometimes a ring zone visible when young. Like the cap, it can be greasy or slimy

Flesh, taste and smell

The flesh is white to pale yellow, especially towards the outer edges. The smell and taste are not distinctive

Possible lookalikes

Could be confused for the Date Waxcap (Hygrocybe spadicea). However, this is a grassland mushroom. Although not poisonous, it is a Red Data List species and should not be collected for consumption. Also, the Slimy Spike (Gomphidius glutinosus), but this has off white gills and a grey/black ring zone and also edible

Edible uses Must be cooked

Hazards Slime on mushrooms is often associated with gastric upset, so removal of the slime before preparing for eating is recommended

Other uses Slime on mushrooms is often associated with gastric upset, so removal of the slime before preparing for eating is recommended

Use in medicine None known. Please let us know if you know of any

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Importance to other species None known. Please let us know if you know of any

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!