FunDiS West Coast Rare Fungi Challenge

Prepared by: Else C. Vellinga, Tiffany Theden, Alex Mayberry & Roo Vandegrift

Bubblegum pink caps

peeking out of the snow!

Snowbank species are mushrooms that come up when the snow in the mountains is melting.

They are not uncommon - yet - but we suspect that the habitat for these snowbank species is shrinking rapidly, leaving them stranded on isolated mountain tops, instead of inhabiting a wide connected area throughout the western mountains.


The pink dome-shaped cap is the first thing that stands out in this species. As in most wax caps, the cap is smooth and a bit slimy when wet. The pink can fade when the mushroom gets older, but the tell-tale distant pale pink gills under the cap remain like that. These are curved downwards and run down on the stem. The stem itself is pale pink as well. The whole mushroom stands around 2.5 inches tall with a 1–2 inch wide cap.
This waxy cap is named after Mr. Donald Goetz, who with his wife Christel, found the first specimens. There are two spellings of the name currently in use, goetzii and goetzei.

What else could it be?

There is really only one pink-capped snow bank species, but when the pink has faded it might look a bit like another spring fruiting wax cap species, H. vernalis, which has more orange-brown tinges in the cap and a white stem.
When you are looking out for this species, you might come across some other snow bank species, such as Pholiota nubigena that has a smell that combines bubblegum and turpentine; it grows on wood.

Make records of all the others too! Their habitat is also at risk.

Never eat wild mushrooms without a confident identification!

Contact Poison Control if you think you have eaten a poisonous mushroom: 1-800-222-1222

When & Where?



More information

Osmundson T. 2016. Hygrophorus goetzei. The Global Fungal Red List Initiative. http://iucn.ekoo.se/iucn/species_view/534690/

Siegel N, Vellinga EC, Schwarz C, Castellano MA, Ikeda D. 2018. A field guide to the rare fungi of California’s National Forests. Bookmobile: pg. 76-77. Accessible at:

iNaturalist (57 obs. in Western North America):

Mushroom Observer (10 obs. in Western North America):

What to do if you find it:

Make an observation

The first thing to do is to record your observation. We prefer to use the iNaturalist app for that (visit www.iNaturalist.org to learn more), but you could also upload your observation to Mushroom Observer (visit www.MushroomObserver.org). The QR code to the right will take you to the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS for short) website to explain how to contribute to the project.

The best thing you can do is take lots of photographs and notes. Typically, smartphones will automatically georeference any photos taken, but it is good practice to note your exact location, preferably with GPS coordinates, and be sure to note what trees are nearby, and any other salient features. For example, was it growing under a hemlock, or Douglas fir? Did it have a particular smell?

Collect a specimen

If you are in an area where it is allowed and have any necessary permits, we strongly urge you to create a vouchered collection. This means a dried specimen for deposit in a herbarium, where researchers can access it for things like DNA sequencing. If you don’t know how to do this, please see: 


In California, collecting mushrooms is usually allowed in National Forests with a permit. Permits can be obtained at the headquarters of the National Forest you're visiting, and are usually inexpensive or free. However, restrictions vary among the individual National Forests, so make sure to find out the specifics when picking up your permit. In Oregon and Washington, you are typically allowed to collect one gallon without a permit on most public lands; but not all, so be sure to check!

Don’t forget to look for other mushrooms and fungi while you’re at it! Keep your eyes open for mushrooms growing near snow: many are rare, so even if you haven’t found this one, you’ve got something neat! Since you’ve already got iNaturalist open, why not record your other finds?

Most mushrooms are like fruit: picking an apple from an apple tree doesn’t hurt the tree. In the same way, harvesting mushrooms does not generally hurt the mycelium of the fungus. We do still recommend leaving some mushrooms behind, and not picking perennial mushrooms, like brackets and conks.

Who to contact

If you think you’ve found this mushroom, and you’re not sure about any of the above, such as how to report the find, whether you can collect it, or what to do with it once you have collected it, please contact us! 


About Fungal Diversity Survey

FunDiS is dedicated to a world in which the fungal kingdom is fully documented, understood, appreciated and protected.

Fungal Diversity Survey
10385 Green Meadow Rd
Sebastopol, CA 95472