The Santa Cruz Mycoflora Project

A Comprehensive Reference to the Macrofungi of Santa Cruz County

Genus: Hygrocybe

Family: Hygrophoraceae

Hygrocybe acutaconica

Hygrocybe acutaconica

Hygrocybe acutaconica Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens Hygrocybe coccinea Hygrocybe conica
Hygrocybe fenestrae Hygrocybe flavescens Hygrocybe flavifolia Hygrocybe laetissima

Known Species in the County

Approximately 11 species in Santa Cruz County.

Hygrocybe Records from Santa Cruz County:

Hygrocybe contains some of the most brightly colored and lovely mushrooms in our woods, drawing the attention of mushroomers and general natural history enthusiasts alike. Besides their frequently brilliant pigmentation, the small size, slender stature, often viscid surfaces, and preference for dark, moist forest habitats help identify them.

Their ecology is somewhat unclear - they were thought to be saprobic for a long time, but recent research by Seitzman et al. (2010) suggests that members of the Hygrophoraceae (outside of the genus Hygrophorus and the lichenized members of the family) are likely in biotrophic relationships with understory plants and/or bryophytes.

Hygrocybe was recently broken into many smaller genera, including Gliophorus, Humidicutis, Cuphophyllus. Taken together as "Hygrocybe sensu lato", the diversity of this group on the redwood coast is great, including many endemic and range-restricted species. Although exact numbers are lacking, this biogeographic region appears to be a global center of diversity for non-mycorrhizal Hygrophoraceae.

Important identification characters include coloration of all surfaces, texture of cap and stipe (esp. visicidity), and bruising reactions. Microscopy is generally less informative than for other groups.