• Proposed
  • Under Assessment
  • Preliminary Assessed
  • VUAssessed
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Hygrocybe mucronella (Fr.) P. Karst.

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Scientific name
Hygrocybe mucronella
(Fr.) P. Karst.
Common names
Bitter Waxcap
lúčnica horká
bitter vaxskivling
Bitter vokshat
Bittere wasplaat
Bitterer Saftling
voskovka hořká
Wilgotnica szerokoblaszkowa, Wilgotnica gorzka
Bitterer Saftling, Breitblättriger Saftling
Rūgtā stiklene
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Preliminary Category
VU A2c+3c+4c
Proposed by
John Bjarne Jordal
Ivona Kautmanova, Tea von Bonsdorff, Armin Mešić, John Bjarne Jordal
Gregory Mueller
Comments etc.
Irmgard Krisai-Greilhuber, Nicolas Schwab, A. Martyn Ainsworth, Claudia Perini, ISPRA Network for the study of Mycological Diversity, AMER Roman Mycological Ecological Association (Italy), Inita Daniele, Izabela L. Kalucka, Anders Dahlberg, Filip Fuljer

Assessment Notes


Hygrocybe mucronella mainly occurs in calcareous semi-natural grasslands, and to a lesser degree (probably <30% of the population) in rich/calcareous forests (like rich broadleaved forests and calcareous pine forests), up to subalpine areas. The habitats are declining due to changing agricultural practices, development projects, mining, forestry and pollution. In grassland habitats we assume a habitat loss and population decline of 30-50% over the past 50 years, probably near 50%. In forests the habitat loss and population decline is estimated to be 15-20% over the same period. Over the distribution range we assume an average habitat loss and population decline of more than 30% over the last 50 years (approximately three generations: one generation is assumed to be about 17 years). Habitat quality of grasslands has also become impaired and the decline in population size over this time could be even higher, strengthening the assumption of 30-50% population decline. This decline in habitat is ongoing and expected to continue over the next 50 years. GBIF lists more than 1700 occurrences from Europe, including duplicates, but due to lacking data in GBIF there could be roughly 2000-3000 known localities. The species is assumed to have a population of more than 20,000 mature individuals. At a global scale (i.e. Europe) the population decline is assumed to be on average 30-50% in 50 years (past, present and future). The species meets the threshold for VU (A2c+3c+4c).

Taxonomic notes

Hygrocybe reai is a synonym. GBIF (2021) shows some records from North America but this is a differernt species (Lodge et al. 2014). Unpublished data show that this is more than one species. Here they are treated as one, as all available information is connected to H. mucronella sensu lato.

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

A European species, mostly in semi-natural grasslands, which are strongly declining. Also occurring in rich forests.

Geographic range

Hygrocybe mucronella occurs in most parts of Europe, from the lowlands up to subalpine areas. Eastwards the distribution is uncertain because of lack of data; in Russia the species is reported from Irkutsk Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Leningrad Oblast, Novgorod Oblast, Primorsky Krai, Pskov Oblast, Tula Oblast (Tatiana Svetasjeva pers. comm.). As the prior report from North America is documented as different species (Lodge et al. 2014), reports from Russian Far East could also be a differrent species.

Population and Trends

Hygrocybe mucronella is on the Red Lists in at least 12 European countries. According to GBIF (2021) there are more than 1700 occurrences from Europe, including duplicates, but due to lacking data in GBIF there could be roughly 2000-3000 known localities. The species is assumed to have a population of more than 20,000 mature individuals. Based on available information on trends in seminatural grasslands, Griffith et al. (2013) estimated a habitat loss of 90% over the last 75 years for the CHEG-fungi (grassland fungi of Clavariaceae, Hygrocybe s.l., Entoloma and Geoglossaceae) as a whole in Western Europe. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the area of grasslands in the EU declined by 12.8% over 13 years (1990-2003). Also other sources point to a habitat loss in seminatural grasslands of roughly 1% per year in Europe over a longer time, although the data quality is not always very good. The habitat quality of seminatural grasslands is also declining, strengthening the population decline. More than 75% of the grasslands habitats are in an unfavourable conservation status. In forests the habitat loss and population decline could be estimated to 15-20% over the same period. Over the whole distribution range we assume a total habitat loss and population decline of at least 30-50% over the last 50 years. As the habitat quality is also declining, population decline could be higher. Much of European grasslands have bad habitat quality. This trend is ongoing and expected to continue into the future (Janssen et al. 2016).

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Hygrocybe mucronella grows in calcareous, mycologically rich but nutrient-poor semi-natural grasslands and to a lesser degree (probably <30% of the population) in rich/calcareous forests (such as rich broadleaved forests and calcareous pine forests). Northwards it extends into the northern boreal zone, in the Alps up to 2130 m asl. In Norway, the habitat specificity has been quantified: N=224; 65% confirmed to seminatural grasslands, and 24% in rich forests (Jordal et al. 2016), and similar patterns are found in other European countries. It is found from sea level up to subalpine areas in Scandinavia and in the Alps. The nutrient strategy is unknown, but all "CHEG-fungi" could have some kind of biotrophy or mycorrhiza (Halbwachs et al. 2018). The fruit bodies are short-lived (weeks), but the mycelium is suspected to be longlived; >

50-100 years.

Boreal ForestTemperate ForestTemperate Grassland


Habitat destruction and abandonment are the main threats to seminatural grasslands. The most important process is probably overgrowing due to ceased grazing/mowing of old seminatural grasslands as part of intensification of agriculture. Further modern cultivation methods like use fertilizers, pesticides and ploughing. Also changed land use with the construction of roads, industrial areas, settlements etc. impact some areas. The latter factors can influence localities in forests, where modern forestry can also be a threat. Decline is expected to continue, as at least the areas of seminatural grasslands are of little economic importance in modern agriculture. Most CHEG grasslands (see Population and trends) are among types assessed as VU, EN or CR in the EU Red List of habitats (Janssen et al. 2016).

Housing & urban areasAgro-industry farmingMining & quarryingAgricultural & forestry effluentsNutrient loads

Conservation Actions

The habitats should be protected against destruction due to intensification of agriculture or development plans. The maintaining of seminatural grasslands demands yearly grazing or mowing. If grazing by heavy animals destroys part of the soil, light animals like sheep should be recommended. Habitat conservation by governmental support to traditional agricultural practices is most important, this exists in many countries to maintain extensive areas of agricultural areas, and should be extended to larger areas than today. Forest management and protection are also needed, especially on calcareous soils. Mining and development projects should be avoided. Further ecological research is needed to clarify the nutrient strategy of grassland species. Management plans are needed. Habitat trends should be monitored.

Site/area protectionSite/area managementAwareness & communicationsNational levelConservation payments

Research needed

More detailed research on habitat requirements and habitat exploitation of H. mucronella would be useful.

Population size, distribution & trendsLife history & ecologyPopulation trendsHabitat trends

Use and Trade

The species is not known to be used.


GBIF. 2021. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) data portal. Collection of online herbarium specimens. Available at: http://data.gbif.org.
Griffith, G.W., Gamarra, J.P., Holden, E.M., Mitchel, D., Graham, A., Evans, D.A. et al. 2013. The international conservation importance of welsh ‘waxcap’ grasslands. Mycosphere 4: 969–984.
Janssen, J.A.M., Rodwell, J.S., García Criado, M., Gubbay, S., Haynes, T., Nieto, A., Sanders, N., Landucci, F., Loidi, J., Ssymank, A., Tahvanainen, T., Valderrabano, M., Acosta, A., Aronsson, M., Arts, G., Attorre, F., Bergmeier, E., Bijlsma, R.-J., Bioret, F., Biţă-Nicolae, C., Biurrun, I., Calix, M., Capelo, J., Čarni, A. Poulos, P., Essl, F., Gardf, Chytrý, M., Dengler, J., Dimojell, H., Gigante, D., Giusso del Galdo, G., Hájek, M., Jansen, F., Jansen, J., Kapfer, J., Mickolajczak, A., Molina, J.A., Molnár, Z., Paternoster, D., Piernik, A., Poulin, B., Renaux, B., Schaminée, J.H.J., Šumberová, K., Toivonen, H., Tonteri, T., Tsiripidis, I., Tzonev, R. and Valachovič, M. 2016. European Red List of Habitats. Part 2. Terrestrial and freshwater habitats. European Union, Luxembourg.
Jordal, J.B., Evju, M., and Gaarder, G. 2016. Habitat specificity of selected grassland fungi in Norway. Agarica 37: 5-32.
Lodge, D.J., Padamsee, M., Matheny, P.B., Aime, M.C., Cantrell, S.A., Boertmann, D., Kovalenko, A., Vizzini, A., Dentinger B.T.M., Kirk, P.M., Ainsworth, A.M., Moncalvo, J.-M., Vilgalys, R., Larsson, E., Lücking, R., Griffith, G.W., Smith, M.E., Norvell, L.L., Desjardin, D.E., Redhead, S.A., Ovrebo, C.L., Lickey, E.B., Ercole, E., Hughes, K.W., Courtecuisse, R., Young, A., Binder, M., Minnis, A.M., Lindner, D.L., Ortiz-Santana, B., Haight, J., Læssøe, T., Baroni, T.J., Geml, J. and Hattori, T. 2014. Molecular phylogeny, morphology, pigment chemistry and ecology in Hygrophoraceae (Agaricales). Fungal Diversity 64(1): 1-99.

Country occurrence

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted