This is principally, but not exclusively, a species of montane to sub-alpine regions. Its main habitats include lawns, grassy meadows, pastures and woodland margins. It has been recorded from both limestone grassland
and acidic grassland
. Fruiting bodies, which are seldom abundant, generally appear between August and October. They have attractive pointed caps 5-7 cm tall and a white or pinkish stem up to 10 cm tall. Being a conspicuous species, it is thought that it may be better recorded than other waxcap fungi. This fungus is one of a group of the often brightly-coloured waxcap fungi (Hygrocybe
spp) which are typically associated with unimproved grassland and which are reported to have declined across Europe.
There are at least 46 post-1960 UK records of this species (including 10 sites in Northern Ireland) and, when data from the current British Mycological Society `waxcap grassland` survey has been collated, it is likely that this figure will be significantly higher. Some 14 sites were discovered in 1997 as a result of survey work in mid Wales. Other records are from North Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales, Oxfordshire, Kent and Worcestershire. A large population is known on an MoD artillery range in Brecknock. Elsewhere this species is found in continental Europe, North America and Asia.
In Great Britain this species is provisionally classified as Low Risk. It receives general protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Current factors causing loss or decline
Historic changes in the population of this species are poorly understood, but potential threats to extant sites include:
Improvement of its grassland habitat through ploughing or addition of fertilisers.
Reduction in the levels, or cessation, of grazing or mowing, leading to growth of rank vegetation and woody species.
One of the known sites for this species in Wales is owned by the National Trust which is aware of its ecological importance and appropriate management for its conservation. It is also present on three SSSIs in mid Wales.
The British Mycological Society is undertaking a `waxcap grassland` survey which began in 1996.
Action plan objectives and targets
Maintain populations of this species at all extant sites.
Increase the extent of populations at extant sites where appropriate and biologically feasible.
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
Site safeguard and management
Where possible, provide mechanisms (such as management agreements on SSSIs and relevant agri-environment schemes) to encourage grazing or continued mowing on all extant grassland sites. (ACTION: CCW, DANI, EHS, NE, MAFF, MoD, SNH, SOAEFD, WOAD)
Control scrub invasion on all extant pink meadow cap sites where considered to be threatening population viability. (ACTION: CCW, EHS, NE, SNH)
Consider notifying as ASSI/SSSIs sites with viable populations of this species where this is consistent with selection guidelines and where this is necessary to ensure their long-term protection and appropriate management. (ACTION: CCW, EHS, NE, SNH)
Species management and protection
Advise landowners and land managers of the presence and importance of this species, specific management for conservation and any potentially damaging actions. Landowners and managers should have access to specialist advice if needed. (ACTION: CCW, DANI, EHS, NE, MAFF, SNH, SOAEFD, WOAD)
As far as possible, advise relevant agri-environment scheme project officers of the locations for this species and the need to encourage appropriate grazing regimes at these sites. (ACTION: CCW, DANI, EHS, NE, MAFF, SNH, SOAEFD, WOAD)
Future Research and Monitoring
Compile records of pink meadow cap and encourage regular visits to known sites where necessary, in order to determine the current status of this species at each site. An assessment of current threats should be made at each site. (ACTION: CCW, EHS, NE, SNH)
Commission research into the habitat requirements and methods of spread of this species, with a view to refining management techniques for its conservation. (ACTION: CCW, EHS, NE, SNH)
Communications and Publicity
Encourage mycologists to pass all records of pink meadow cap including ecological information, to a national database by 2002. (ACTION: CCW, EHS, NE, JNCC, SNH)
Liaise with specialist societies to increase the awareness and identification skills of mycologists and other naturalists in relation to this species, through publishing articles or holding identification workshops. (ACTION: CCW, NE, EHS, JNCC, SNH)
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: UK Biodiversity Group Tranche 2 Action Plans - Volume III: Plants and fungi (February 1999, Tranche 2, Vol III, p43)
Visit the ARKive website to view images and further information relating to this species