Okay, that’s not really how the 17th-century poem (‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time’, by English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick) begins but, when it comes to gathering waxcaps, you really do need to seize the day because
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same [fungi] that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
Luckily, I have a magnificent and very abundant source of waxcaps much closer to home, at
. The fact that its 110-acre
grounds have remained largely undisturbed since the cemetery closed to new
burials about 35 years ago means the grassy spaces between and around the
graves are ideal for waxcaps, as the hygrocybe
species are sensitive both to pollution and to agricultural chemicals. Cathays Cemetery
I am still very much a novice when it comes to identifying fungi – if you’ve ever tried it, you will know what a difficult process it can be. Is the fungus slimy or dry? Where is it growing? Is it alone or in a cluster? What is the texture of the cap? How are the gills attached to the stem? What colour are the spores? These are just a few of the myriad questions you must answer. It is at once frustrating, entrancing, infuriating, captivating … and highly addictive!
I think I know the identities of all the waxcaps in these photographs but, just in case I’m wrong, let’s just focus on how beautiful they are and not bother about what they’re called. Enjoy!
For more facts and an identification guide to waxcaps in particular and fungi in general, check out the First Nature website.