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Blackening Waxcap

Inedible Inedible
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

A fairly common, sometimes brightly coloured Waxcap found growing in grassy locations from summer until late Autumn. As the name suggests, the mushroom becomes black where touched or completely black after some days and will be found in that condition for many weeks. Although listed in most guides as edible this mushroom is not recommended.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Blackening Waxcap (EN), Witches Hat, Conical Waxcap, Cap Cwyr Duol (CY), Wilgotnica Czerniejąca (PL), Feketedő Nedűgomba (HU)
Scientific Name Hygrocybe conica
Synonyms Hygrocybe pseudoconica
Season Start Jul
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 1-10
Average Cap width (CM) 1-8
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


1-10 cm. Very varied being yellow, orange or red, or a mixture of all three on one cap. The cap is conical until opening out flat and turning black with age or handling. While young, the cap feels dry but still waxy and has what look like radial fibres.


Starting white to yellow but soon turning black with age or handling. Has tiny lateral ‘ribs’ between the gills which are fairly wide spaced. Fairly crowded and free of the stem to slightly joined (adnexed).


1-10 cm long, 0.2-1.5 cm diameter. Yellow to orange particularly towards the top, off white to grey lower down and vertically fibrillose. As with all parts of this mushroom the stem will turn black when handled or left to mature.


The flesh is white in the hollow stem and off white to yellow in the cap.


Grassland, fields, lawns, roadsides, gravel tracks and dunes.

Possible Confusion

Crimson Waxcap (Hygrocybe punicea), pictured, can look similar but is bigger and does not bruise or turn black.
Dune Waxcap (Hygrocybe conicoides) is growing on dunes, its gills are more or less reddish, and really slowly turns black.
There are several potential Waxcap look-a-likes but if it turns black on handling it is the Blackening Waxcap or one of its many variants.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid.



Other Facts

The Blackening Waxcap and the Conical Waxcap were considered two distinct species but it is now thought one is a variant. They are now Hygrocybe conica and Hygrocybe conica var. nigrescens. There are many variants of the Blackening Waxcap but these have not all been identified individually yet.


2 comments for Blackening Waxcap

  1. bartholomew casagrande says:

    These seem to come up twice a year in my garden – at the start of summer and then during autumn. They look quite pretty to start with and blacken before decaying completely. the slugs etc seem to love them.

  2. Stuart Higginson says:

    Just come across a row of black mushrooms on a grass verge. Fairly pointed in appearance but black all over. In some bits they are in small clusters.

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