Hygrocybe punicea

Hygrocybe punicea (Fr.) P. Kumm., the crimson waxcap.


Kingdom Fungi
Phylum Basidiomycota
Class Basidiomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Tricholomataceae
Genus Hygrocybe


Agaricus puniceus Fr.
  Syst. mycol. (Lundae) 1: 104 (1821)
Godfrinia acutopunicea (R. Haller Aar. & F.H. Møller) Herink
  Sborník severočeského Musea, Historia Naturalis 1: 65 (1958)
Godfrinia punicea (Fr.) Herink
  Sborník severočeského Musea, Historia Naturalis 1: 68 (1958)
Hygrocybe acutopunicea R. Haller Aar. & F.H. Møller
  Schweiz. Z. Pilzk. 34: 66 (1956)
Hygrophorus puniceus (Fr.) Fr.
  Epicr. syst. mycol. (Upsaliae): 331 (1838)
Pseudohygrocybe punicea (Fr.) Kovalenko
  Mikol. Fitopatol. 22(3): 208 (1988)

Common names

Scarlet- or crimson-waxy cap
Granaatbloemwasplaat (Dutch)
Scharlakansvaxing (Swedish)


Cap: 4-10 cm diameter, initially campanulate, and later flattening, often with involute margin, blood- to dark red in colour; context up to 5 mm thick, brittle, yellow.
Gills: thick and widely spaced, adnate or emarginate with decurrent tooth, yellow-red in colour.

Hygrocybe punicea Gills
An underside view of Hygrocybe punicea, showing the gills

Spore print: white.
Spores: broadly elliptical, 7–10.5 x 4.5–5.5 µm.
Stem: 5-12 cm high, 0.9-2 cm thick, cylindrical, tapering towards base, solid,  reddish with a paler yellow or whitish base; flesh whitish.
Smell: none.
: mild.
Edibility: edible.
Habitat: solitary or subgregarious; grows in grasses, often in autumn; common.

Description modified from Bas et al., 1990, p. 101.

Lipid composition

The lipid composition of H. punicea has been analyzed using GLC, GC/MS and 1H NMR (Yokokawa and Mitsuhashi, 1981). As a percentage of dry weight, the total (saponifiable) lipid content in this species is a low 3.6%, while unsaponifiable lipids were 11.2%. Of this unsaponifiable fraction, 31.1% was comprised of Δ5,7-sterols. This fraction was further determined to be 78.8% ergosterol, and 21.2% ergosta-5,7-dien-3β-ol.

Medicinal properties

Anti-tumor effects

Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of H. punicea and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 90% and 100%, respectively (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).


California Fungi has a picture and description; CalPhotos, and Josef Hlasek’s site.

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Bas C, Kuyper TW, Noordeloos ME,Vellinga EC. (1990).
Flora Agaricina Neerlandica. Volume 2.
CRC Press. 144 pp.

Ohtsuka S, Ueno S, Yoshikumi C, Hirose F, Ohmura Y, Wada T, Fujii T, Takahashi E.
Polysaccharides having an anticarcinogenic effect and a method of producing them from species of Basidiomycetes.
UK Patent 1331513, 26 September 1973.

Pradeep CK, Joseph A, Vijaya, Abraham TK, Vrinda KB.
Hygrocybe punicea: An edible mushroom new to India.
Acta Botanica Indica. 1996 24(1):103-4.

Yokokawa H, Mitsuhashi T.
The sterol composition of mushrooms.
Phytochem. 1981 20(6):1349-52.

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