The grassy slopes on the embankments of Llanishen reservoir have been found to support significant populations of rare waxcap fungi. Waxcap fungi are important in conservation terms because they are indicators of high quality unimproved grassland habitats. In fact, these are often known as waxcap grasslands. Although waxcap fungi were once common, they are very intolerant of any chemical fertilisers, and as most of our countryside is now treated with fertilisers to increase yields, waxcaps are becoming increasingly rare.  Although waxcaps like nutrient-poor grasslands, they also prefer grazed meadows where the grass is short. Obviously the reservoir embankments are not grazed, but the relatively frequent mowing of the grass has a similar effect to grazing.

So far 29 species of waxcap have been found in the grasslands surrounding the reservoir. This is an impressive array and means that the site qualifies as one of international importance for waxcap fungi. In September 2005 the Countryside Council for Wales notified the embankments of both Llanishen and Lisvane reservoirs as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for grassland fungi.

Waxcap fungi are very attractive and many of them are bright colours such as red and yellow. Unfortunately, only a few of them have common names (as opposed to Latin, scientific names). For any fungi aficionados, the following species have been recorded at the reservoir:

Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens Haller

Hygrocybe calyptriformis (Berk)Fayod
Hygrocybe cantharellus (Schwein.) Murrill
Hygrocybe ceracea (Wulfen:Fr)Kummer
Hygrocybe chlorophana (Fr:Fr)Wünsche

Hygrocybe citrinovirens (J.E. Lange) Jul. Schäff.
Hygrocybe coccinea (Sch:Fr)Kummer
Hygrocybe colemanniana (A. Bloxam) P.D. Orton & Watling
Hygrocybe conica (Scop:Fr)Kummer
Hygrocybe flavipes (Britzelm.) Arnolds 1989
Hygrocybe fornicata (Fr.) Singer
Hygrocybe glutinipes var. glutinipes (J.E. Lange) R. Haller Aar.

Hygrocybe ingrata J.L. Jensen & F.H. Møller 1945
Hygrocybe insipida (J.E. Lange ex S. Lundell) M.M. Moser 1967
Hygrocybe intermedia (Pass.) Fayod

Hygrocybe irrigata (Pers.) M.M. Moser

Hygrocybe laeta var. laeta (Pers.) P. Kumm.
Hygrocybe lacma (Schumach.) P.D. Orton & Watling
Hygrocybe mucronella (Fr.) P. Karst.
Hygrocybe persistens (Britzelm.) Singer (=Hygrocybe persistens var. persistens)
Hygrocybe pratensis (Per:Fr)Bon
Hygrocybe psittacina (Sch:Fr)Kummer

Hygrocybe punicea (Fr:Fr)Kummer
Hygrocybe quieta (Kühner)Singer
Hygrocybe reidii Kühner
Hygrocybe russocoriacea (Berk. & Mill.{?}) P.D. Orton & Watling
Hygrocybe splendidissima (P.D. Orton) P.D. Orton & Watling

Hygrocybe virginea (Wulfen)Orton & Watling
Hygrocybe virginea var. fuscescens (Bres.) Arnolds 1986

If you would like to find out more about waxcap fungi, the following websites are of interest:

University of Wales, Aberystwyth waxcap website

Northern Ireland Fungus Group waxcap pages