Hygrocybe is a genus of colorful agarics in the family Hygrophoraceae, or waxcaps.


Members of the genus Hygrocybe are distinguished from other members of the Hygrophoraceae by their often brightly-colored fruiting bodies, the saprotrophic habitat of most species (though a few have been shown to be shown to be ectomycorrhizal), and subparallel to parallel lamellar trama. This genus includes the "witches hats" (Hygrocybe conica and allies), a group of species distinguished by their bright red and yellow fruiting bodies, strong black-staining reaction when handled, and extremely viscid fruiting bodies. Some grassland and heath ecosystems, particularly in Europe, have a great abundance and diversity of Hygrocybe species.

Taxonomy and nomenclature

Elias Magnus Fries recognized it as Hygrophorus tribus Hygrocybe in 1838 and Kummer (1871) raised it to generic status. (Hesler and Smith, 1963)

This genus is recognized by some modern authorities and not by others. Hesler and Smith (1963) and Largent (1985) consigned it to sectional rank, Hygrophorus section Hygrocybe, though Largent (1988) later recognized its generic status. Boertmann (1996), also recognizes the generic status of this group and includes species classified by some other authors as Camarophyllus within it.

The genus Bertrandia, erected for H. astatogala, has been sunk into Hygrocybe.

Some species, such as the mauve splitting waxcap (Humidicutis lewelliniae) of Southeastern Australia, have been described in the small genus Humidicutis.


Several species are rare and possibly endangered, including Hygrocybe spadicea and H. calyptriformis.


  • Boertmann D. (1996). The genus Hygrocybe (Fungi of Northern Europe 1). Copenhagen: Danish Mycological Society. ISBN 8798358111
  • Bon M. (1987). The Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and North-western Europe. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-39935-X
  • Hesler LR, Smith AH. (1963). North American species of Hygrophorus Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0901439674
  • Kummer P. (1871). Der Führer in die Pilzkunde.
  • Largent DL. (1985). The Agaricales of California 5: Hygrophoraceae. Eureka, CA: Mad River Press. ISBN 0916422542
  • Largent DL. (1988). How to identify mushrooms to genus VI: Modern genera. Eureka, CA: Mad River Press. ISBN 0916422763
  • Moser M. (1978). Basidiomycetes II: Röhrlinge und Blätterpilze. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag. (English edition: translated by Simon Plant: Keys to Agarics and Boleti (Roger Phillips 1983) ISBN 0-9508486-0-3 )

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