A late October surprise: A profusion of Crimson Waxy Caps growing along the Skullcap Trail in the Jefferson National Forest! It was wonderful to find these gorgeous red mushrooms mixed in among the falling leaves of Chestnut Oak and Sourwood trees. This was my first hike in a long time where I didn’t take my heavy Canon camera with me. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see anything of note because the nights have been so cold lately… Now I wish I had taken it along, but fortunately, my cell phone filled in pretty well for this occasion.
Whenever I find things in the woods that I’ve never seen before, I take lots of photos and then go back home to consult my field guides. This time, the first book I looked at nailed the description of this mushroom so perfectly, that I felt I needed to look no further. Here is the description of Crimson Waxy Cap from William Roody’s “Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians”, which is an excellent resource for our area:
“Cap: Broadly conical to bell-shaped, becoming flattened with an umbo, margin often uplifted with age; crimson to blood red, at times with a narrow yellow margin, fading and often developing yellowish orange patches with age; surface smooth, lubricous, more or less streaked, somewhat viscid when moist, shiny; flesh yellowish orange, odor and taste not distinctive.
Gills: Moderately well-spaced, broad, thick, waxy; pale yellow to yellowish orange with a yellow gill edge.
Comments: This colorful wax cap is larger and more robust than most others in the genus Hygrocybe.”
Here are the photos below that match up pretty with this description: